The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the digital divide across Indian Country. The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) has provided tribal broadband funding to help mitigate the impact. The Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is expected to enact a $1 billion tribal broadband connectivity program that is directed to assist tribal governments with broadband deployment and affordability, digital inclusion, remote learning and telehealth.
Eligible applicants: Tribal governments, tribal colleges and universities, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on behalf of the Native Hawaiian Community, including native Hawaiian education programs, tribal organizations, and native corporations as defined under Section 3 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
Timeline: NTIA anticipates accepting applications for the tribal broadband connectivity grants in summer 2021. The application deadline will be after the 90-day period beginning on the date the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is announced.
Equitable distribution: The amounts appropriated shall be made available to eligible entities on an equitable basis and not less than 3% of those amounts shall be made available for the benefit of native Hawaiians. More details will be included in the NOFO.
Eligible uses: Section 905(c)(5) stipulates the following eligible uses of grant funds:
Eligible service area: A census block in which broadband service is not available at one or more households or businesses in the census block, based on:
Qualifying broadband service Section 905(a)(11) defines this term as broadband service with:
Administrative expenses: An eligible entity may use no more than 2% of grant funds received under this subsection for administrative purposes.
Commitment and expenditure deadlines:
The assistant secretary may extend the one-year award period for an eligible entity that proposes to use the grant funds for construction of broadband infrastructure if the eligible entity certifies that:
Any grant funds not expended by an eligible entity by the one-year deadline shall be made available to other eligible entities for the purposes provided in this subsection.