States aren’t the only ones poised to receive federal broadband funding, as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last week doled out $8.39 million to 17 Tribal entities across the country.
The money comes from the nearly $3 billion Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), which was formed from the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in 2021. Ten out of the 17 grantees have indicated plans to build out fiber.
California and Oklahoma scored the highest amount of funds, with four Tribal entities in each state receiving roughly $500,000 apiece. California’s Bishop Paiute Tribe boasts the most expansive project from the list, as it aims to deploy a hybrid fiber/wireless network with speeds above 25/3 Mbps and under 100 ms latency for all 656 locations on the Bishop Paiute Reservation.
“Our goal is to establish connectivity for Tribal members by enhancing services and improving the equitable distribution of and access to essential educational, economical and emergency services,” said Meryl Picard, Tribal Council chairwoman of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, in a statement.
Washington state’s Quinault Indian Nation is targeting the second highest number of locations, as it will use $500,000 to purchase conduit reels for a future fiber network that will eventually serve 475 unserved Tribal homes, 11 businesses and 25 community anchor institutions.
The complete list of this round’s TBCP winners can be found here.
According to NTIA, it’s awarded over $1.77 billion to-date to 183 Tribal entities. More TBCP funding is to come, as NTIA said it plans to release a second Notice of Funding Opportunity in the coming months.
NTIA’s latest TBCP awards come a few days after it announced state allocations for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.
Though the agency continues to dole out funding to support Tribal broadband builds, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) thinks NTIA isn’t doing enough to ensure the success of TBCP as well as the Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP). Specifically, GAO found NTIA hasn’t defined what it means to provide “reliable” and “affordable” connectivity for those programs.