The Institute for Local Self Reliance is looking for interesting help…
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for a Leading Edge Fellowship for the second time. The application window has opened for recent PhDs in the humanities to apply for a two-year, full-time fellowship to be a Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst. The fellow will continue and contribute to foundational work by ILSR on Internet access in Indian Country while gaining experience in the regular portfolio of research and policy activities by the Community Broadband Networks initiative at ILSR.
Read about the requirements and learn more about the fellowship here. Then, apply here! The deadline is March 15, 2023 at 9:00pm EDT.
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded 2 grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling more than $36 million, bring the total of the program to over $1.73 billion awarded to 132 Tribal entities. With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these grants will expand high-speed Internet service network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and healthcare on Tribal lands.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to connecting all Tribal communities to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Our Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is continuing its historic and unprecedented commitment to close the digital divide by investing in Native communities.”
Tribes in two states received grants – Hawaii and Minnesota.
More info on the project in Minnesota…
Applicant – Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Project Type – Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Funding Amount – $18,797,452
Description – The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber and fixed wireless to directly connect 4,399 unserved Native American households with qualifying broadband service (fiber to the home service up to 100/40 Gbps and wireless service up to 80/20 Mbps).
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announces…
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded 18 grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling $224,479,717.83, bring the total of the program to $1.5 billion awarded to 112 Tribal entities. …
The projects funded by these awards will directly connect 21,468 unserved Native American households that previously had no connectivity to high-speed Internet as well as businesses and anchor institutions. Additionally, the 18 grants will create 137 new jobs.
Here’s the award in Minnesota:
- Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota
- Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
- The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber directly connecting 47 unserved Native American households, 3 businesses, and 13 community anchor institutions with fiber to home qualifying broadband service at speeds up to 10 Gbps symmetrical.
The NTIA reports…
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded 23 grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling more than $601.6 million, bring the total of the program to $1.35 billion awarded to 94 Tribal entities. With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the grants will expand high-speed Internet network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and healthcare on Tribal lands.
The new grants are being awarded in fifteen states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
And here’s the info on Bois Forte…
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians
Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber directly connecting 2,097 unserved Native American households, plus more than 60 businesses and community anchor institutions with up to 1 Gbps fiber to the home qualifying broadband service.
AT&T reports on three new FirstNet Cell site. Here’s the info on each, starting with Deer River…
First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located south of Deer River on Great River Road near Skunk Lake and the Mississippi River.
This new site will provide coverage when traveling along Great River Road (County 65 NE) and Minnesota State Highway 6 west of Grand Rapids in Itasca County. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
In 2021, we added a new site in Togo near George Washington State Forest in Itasca County. In addition, AT&T has added new cell towers in Itasca County to enhance mobile broadband coverage and help give residents, visitors and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service. These sites are south of Bigfork near Maple Lake and north of Bovey by Lower Balsam Lake.
First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail just north of Ely near Twin Lakes and Everett Lake.
This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
This is the third FirstNet site in St. Louis County and the second on the Echo Trail. In 2021, we added a new site on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region. This site along the Echo Trail provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik wildfire in May of 2021 just a few miles south of the tower. We also added a new site in 2021 in the Kabetogama State Forest near Kjostad Lake and west of Buyck.
First responders in northwestern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located near Gary and just west of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota’s Red River Valley region.
This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along State Highway 200 and State Highway 32 in Norman County. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
I’ve been trying to check in with folks in the county (or tribal areas) who might know who to contact about digital equity programs or opportunities. (If you are that person, please give me a shout! firstname.lastname@example.org) As I contact folks, I’ve been getting some fun update, such as this one from Randy Long with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa…
Our current fiber to the home project is currently underway and hopeful that the locations of Nett Lake, Palmquist and Indian Point will be completed an operations yet this fall. Our Vermilion location where the Casino is located will be questionable by late fall. I have applied for many funding opportunities for broadband in conjunction with CTC for our surrounding areas and hopeful that some of them will come through.
Red Lake Nation News reports…
Paul Bunyan Communications and the Red Lake Nation are holding a another sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program, this time on Thursday, August 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake.
This new long-term benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households struggling to afford internet service and provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.
US Department of the Interior announces…
Federal Coalition Announces National Summit to Improve High-Speed Internet on Tribal Lands
Registration Open for 2022 National Tribal Broadband Summit
WASHINGTON — A coalition of federal agencies today announced next steps as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to addressing how to close the digital divide and increase internet access across Indian Country and the Native Hawaiian Community. The Department of the Interior and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are partnering with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) for the 2022 National Tribal Broadband Summit, taking place virtually throughout the month of September.
The National Tribal Broadband Summit offers a platform for leaders across the broadband development ecosystem to share best practices, new ideas and lessons learned from their real-world experience of bringing high-speed internet to Tribal governments and Tribal and Native Hawaiian Community businesses, organizations, and homes. Federal partners, Tribal and Native Hawaiian Community broadband industry experts, and other participants will discuss how to make the best use of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Federal Broadband Connectivity Grant funds for Tribes, and how to plan for the future of wireless networks and digital economies on Tribal Lands and across Native Hawaiian communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
Registration is now open to Tribal leaders; representatives of Tribal organizations; Tribal colleges and universities, and schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students; Tribal libraries, museums, and cultural centers; the Native Hawaiian community, including Native Hawaiian education programs; private sector stakeholder organizations; representatives from state governments supporting high-speed internet expansion on Tribal lands; and federal program managers and policymakers.
Tribal lands are some of the most digitally disconnected areas in the United States, where 1.5 million people lack high-speed internet services. According to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission, approximately 35 percent of those living on Tribal lands lack broadband access. Likewise, 34 percent of Native Hawaiians reported insufficient access to digital services and internet connectivity. As COVID-19 forced students to shift their learning online and numerous people into telework, the need for home broadband access across Native communities became increasingly apparent and critical.
Service providers, engineers, researchers, funders, regulators, anchor institutions, telehealth and distance learning specialists, Tribal governments, organizations and institutions, and other key players from across the country are invited to submit their best projects, programs or initiatives in planning, constructing, delivering and using broadband networks across Indian Country and the Native Hawaiian Community to be presented at this year’s summit. Submissions are strongly encouraged to include content from federally recognized Tribes, Tribal partners, or the Native Hawaiian Community.
Senator Smith’s website reports…
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded $3.1 million in federal funding for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Onamia, Minnesota to boost tribal entrepreneurship. Specifically, the funding, provided through the American Rescue Plan’s Indigenous Communities program, will enable the construction of a tribal business incubator to help small businesses and start-ups access technical assistance they need to increase and expand their operations.
“This federal funding will make a real difference for the Mille Lacs Band Reservation, helping establish a business incubator that will boost small businesses and spur entrepreneurship,” said Klobuchar. “I’ll keep pushing to make sure our tribal communities have the resources they need to pursue economic opportunities.”
“Minnesota’s Tribal Nations have deep cultural and economic significance across our state,” said Smith. “I am pleased to announce this investment in the Mille Lacs Band reservation in Minnesota, which will help to grow and diversify the local economy. This investment, made possible by the American Rescue Plan, will create jobs and generate private investment so that the local economy can build back stronger in the wake of the pandemic.”
“President Biden is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe business incubator project will spur private investment and job creation throughout the reservation.”
This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Indigenous Communities program, which allocates $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding specifically to support the needs of Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities. The program supports these partners to develop and execute economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future.
Klobuchar and Smith have long worked to strengthen economic opportunities for Minnesota’s tribal communities. In April, they secured over $1 million in federal funding to provide emerging businesses in the Mille Lacs Band with necessary support and technical services.
Senator Smith’s website reports…
U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) chaired a productive field hearing for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, focusing on how Tribal Nations can utilize funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Senator Smith helped pass this historic investment in our country’s infrastructure last fall. The hearing was hosted by Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community at the Mystic Lake Center in Prior Lake.
The purpose of this hearing to understand how these transformational infrastructure investments can benefit Tribal Nations in Minnesota. This bill has $13 billion for Tribal-specific programs and set-asides. I am committed to making sure this funding is equitably distributed and accessible to Tribal Nations, and that it makes lasting impact.
These $13 billion will help address the longstanding infrastructure inequities in Tribal communities—inequities that impact the health, economic well-being, and safety of Native peoples. Here are some highlights:
- There’s $3.5 billion for Indian Health Service sanitation facilities—that will make drinking water safe and improve sewage and waste disposal systems.
- There’s $3.8 billion for roads and bridges on Tribal lands, to make roadways safer for cars and pedestrians.
- There’s $2 billion for broadband on Tribal lands, which will improve access to education, telehealth, and economic opportunities.
- There’s $200 million for climate resilience, so that Tribal Nations can plan for and implement responses to climate change.
Yesterday at the Net Inclusion conference NDIA announced…
We’re Advancing Digital Equity with a Multi-Year Commitment to Rural & Tribal Communities That Will Impact Thousands
Over four years, this $10 million grant and the National Digital Navigator Corps will have a wide impact on the ground in rural and Tribal communities and a long-lasting impact on digital inclusion:
We will be equipped to formalize the Digital Navigator model.
We will gain insight from data collection with partner sites.
AMERIND will gain a staff member dedicated to digital equity in Tribal lands.
Assets will be publicly available to expand and scale Digital Navigator work nationwide.
Public Knowledge reports…
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced more than $1 billion in funding to promote meaningful broadband access in rural, Tribal, and socially vulnerable communities. This program has the potential to deliver robust, affordable broadband to rural and Tribal communities that is essential to their civic, economic, and educational livelihoods. The program will offer eligible recipients a mix of grants, grants and loans combined, and just loans to deploy truly robust broadband networks (capable of 100/100 Mbps upload/download broadband speeds) to eligible communities. Much of what is in the ReConnect program is consistent with Public Knowledge’s advocacy on the infrastructure bill pending before Congress, so we are excited to see the USDA’s RUS step up to deliver meaningful broadband access to rural and tribal communities.
What do we love about this program? There is a lot to love here. Specifically, in order to ensure that our most vulnerable communities, including Tribal areas, are able to benefit from this opportunity, the RUS has set aside $350 million in grant funding for Tribal governments and “socially vulnerable communities” to build 100/100 Mbps networks to their communities.
The scoring is particularly interesting…
Moreover, Public Knowledge is very excited about the evaluation criteria that will be used to award funding. Projects will be ranked and awarded funding based on criteria that includes points for addressing affordability (20 points), serving higher poverty areas (20 points), committing to net neutrality (10 points), and offering wholesale broadband service (10 points).
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)
Fond du Lac Reservation has seen some success in deploying better broadband in the last year. They went from 77 percent access to speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 up to 90 percent; and access to 25/3 has remained at 100 percent.
This is one of the few communities where there is a striking difference between the fixed, non-mobile broadband and wireline. The only have 68.62 percent access to wireless; although that is to 100/20 speeds.
|Access to Fixed, Non-Mobile Broadband
||%Broadband (25/3) 2021
||%Broadband (25/3) 2019
||%Broadband (100/20) 2021
||%Broadband (100/20) 2019
In April 2017, Mediacom announced that they upgraded their customers on the Lower Sioux Reservation to their Gig access. It seems that is reflected in the map but that almost 10 percent of the reservation’s households are not in Mediacom territory.
They will likely need concerted effort to get the rest of the community better broadband. One opportunity might come from Lead for America, a group of fellows working in rural areas to promote better broadband. Vanessa Goodthunder, Executive Director of Caƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Oṭi – Lower Sioux Early Head Start and Head Start, is on the broadband of Lead for America so the connection is there.
Lower Sioux Indian Community
(get 2020 map)
Lower Sioux 2020
Lower Sioux 2019
- Served: Green
- Underserved: Purple
- Unserved: Pink
I am doing the annual look at broadband in tribal areas – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:
- Red (yikes)
- Yellow (warning)
- Green (good shape)