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$1 Billion in Funding Available for Tribal Broadband Projects

August 17, 2023
2 minute read

$1 Billion in Funding Available for Tribal Broadband Projects

August 17, 2023
2 minute read

Authored By

Mark Bender

Mark C. Bender

Special Counsel

In late July, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a $1 billion round of grant funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). The TBCP is a $3 billion program directed to tribal governments for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion. TBCP has already awarded $1.78 billion to 191 Tribal entities since the program began in 2021.

Under the program, grant awards will be divided into two categories: (1) Broadband Infrastructure and Deployment Projects, and (2) Broadband Use and Adoption projects. No cost match is required for either category.

The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Project program will provide funds for projects that deploy new infrastructure such as construction of middle mile or last mile networks, or replacing or upgrading old and existing network infrastructure. Grant awards under this category will prioritize projects that serve currently unserved households. Unserved households lack access to speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload ("25/3 service") and have no providers currently planning to build in the area. Broadband Infrastructure Deployment category grants will range from $1 million to $50 million.

The Broadband Use and Adoption program focuses on addressing the "digital divide" by building Tribal capacity and increasing affordability. Projects could include efforts to expand and promote digital inclusion (e.g., digital equity planning), training staff and Tribal community members, and providing technical support. A maximum of $100 million will be made available for Broadband Use and Adoption projects. Grants under the Broadband Use and Adoption category will range between $100,000 to $2,500,000.

In its announcement, NTIA encourages projects that promote economic development and "support smart technologies for agriculture, manufacturing, utilities, and government operations and services on Tribal Lands." Applicants should be able to demonstrate the long-term viability of their projects and explain plans for expanding workforce development, education, telehealth, public safety and telework access.

Entities eligible for TBCP include Tribal governments, Tribal colleges or universities, Tribal organizations, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on behalf of the Native Hawaiian Community, including Native Hawaiian Education Programs, and Alaskan Native Corporations.

Tribal governments that have not received prior funding from the TBCP will be allocated awards of at least $500,000, including to Tribal governments that apply to the program as part of a consortium.

Applications packages for TBCP are due January 23, 2024.

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