Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe awarded $18 million in federal Internet for All 

NTIA announces

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).

MN awarded $5.8 Million in Internet for All Planning Grants

NTIA reports

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Minnesota received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. Minnesota is receiving $5,881,905.10 in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden, to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.

“Closing the digital divide is essential for Minnesotans to access healthcare, obtain good, high-paying jobs, and connect rural communities who have far too long been disconnected,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “I appreciate Governor Walz and his team for their commitment to connecting Minnesotans to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.”

“These resources, based on my legislation to bring high-speed, affordable broadband to all corners of our country, will ensure that more Minnesotans can connect to work, school, health care and business opportunities,” said Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I’ll keep fighting to close the digital divide and help families across our state reliably access the high-speed internet they need.”

“Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st century – it isn’t just nice to have, it’s necessary if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone,” said Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith. “This funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will expand access to affordable, high-speed internet to thousands of Minnesotans. It will also fund programs aimed at promoting digital equity and inclusion so that every Minnesotan, no matter their zip code, has internet access. I’m proud of our work to secure these investments and will continue looking for ways to close the digital divide.”

All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis.

About Minnesota’s Planning Grants

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program

The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs.

Minnesota will receive $5 million to fund various activities including:

  • Identification of unserved and underserved locations;
  • Efforts to support local coordination including outreach to diverse stakeholders across the Minnesota;
  • Planning and capacity-building of the state’s broadband office;
  • Local engagement with unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to Internet adoption.

Digital Equity

The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The first part of NTIA’s execution of the Digital Equity Act is to fund digital equity planning efforts.

Minnesota will receive $881,905.10 to fund various activities including:

  • Development of a statewide digital equity plan to close the digital equity gap;
  • Recruiting staff to help develop the plan;
  • Engagement of local community members and stakeholders on digital equity issues.

Internet for All

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward Internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit AffordableConnectivity.gov to learn more.

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet service programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov.

More than 235 Applications Submitted to “Internet for All” Middle Mile Grant Program

The NTIA reports

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today preliminary data that shows over 235 applications were submitted totaling more than $5.5 billion in funding requests for the Enabling Middle Mile Infrastructure Grant Program, part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in affordable high-speed Internet for all.

Included in President Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative, the Middle Mile grant program provides $1 billion in funding to projects that connect high-speed Internet networks to each other and reduce the cost of bringing Internet service to communities that lack it. …

Applications for the Middle Mile program were due by September 30, 2022. NTIA will evaluate the applications and make awards on a rolling basis no earlier than March 2023.

It’s daunting to think that $1 billion has been approved and $5.5 billion has been requested. It reminds us that while a lot of federal funding is going to be investing in broadband, it may not be enough to reach all areas. Communities should be getting ready.