U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Https

Secure websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Breadcrumb

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Fact Sheets

Was this page helpful?

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Offers Nearly $1 Billion in Grants to Help Connect Tribal Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Broadband Internet is increasingly essential for Americans to do their jobs, participate in distance learning, access health care and stay connected. Still, millions of Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that can provide acceptable speeds. Americans outside of urban areas particularly lack adequate access.  

On tribal lands, the digital divide is especially stark. Only half of households on tribal lands subscribe to fixed home Internet service, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and some areas lack even basic cell reception. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools around the country to quickly set up distance learning programs, some students at tribal-serving schools reported driving for miles to find a connection strong enough to participate in class.  

For too many people in our most vulnerable communities, the high-speed broadband that so many of us take for granted remains out of reach. As part of the American Jobs Plan, President Biden has proposed a bold $100 billion investment to bring affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a down payment on achieving that goal. 

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program 

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, will provide nearly $1 billion in dedicated funding to expand broadband on tribal lands. The program will deploy broadband infrastructure, establish affordable broadband programs, and support digital inclusion across Indian Country to lessen the digital divide. 

Prior to launching the program, NTIA conducted 13 hours of Nation-to-Nation tribal consultation with Native American Tribes, Alaskan Villages, and Hawaiian Homelands to hear the issues surrounding the digital divide and the impacts of COVID to tribal governments, health facilities, educational institutions, and businesses.  

The TBCP is designed to address the following: 

The TBCP will focus on connecting tribal communities that have the greatest needs when it comes to basic broadband services. Despite the increasing necessity of broadband access, more than 20% of people living on tribal lands still lack broadband service availability at home.  

Infrastructure grants will also fuel job growth on tribal lands. Tribal projects should be built and maintained by a tribal workforce and inspire culturally appropriate practices that promote the rich culture and traditions of each Tribe. Through the TBCP, NTIA will also promote workforce development by supporting tribal employment rights offices (TERO) and enforcement of tribally approved TERO policies.  

Affordability 

Roughly half of households in tribal lands lack broadband service at home. While part of this is due to gaps in broadband infrastructure that disproportionately impact tribal areas, this also is because the United States has some of the highest broadband prices among OECD countries. 

The TBCP will fund programs designed to make broadband affordable for tribal families, including those that provide free or reduced-cost service. There is no matching funds requirement for tribes to apply for the TBCP. 

Digital Inclusion 

Indigenous communities are among the most unserved and underserved populations for broadband deployment and adoption in the country, which has been devastatingly evident throughout the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital inclusion encompasses not only access to the Internet but also the availability of hardware, software, digital content and services, and maybe most importantly, training for the digital literacy skills required for effective use of information and communication technologies. 

The TBCP will be critical to bridging the digital divide and building the capacity of tribal communities to take full advantage of the economic and educational opportunities of the 21st century.  

Key Information / Statistics 

  • NTIA will make up to $980,000,000 available for federal assistance under the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.  In accordance with the Act, NTIA will allocate not less than $30,000,000 for the benefit of Native Hawaiians. 

  • To further meet the equitable distribution requirement of the Act, NTIA will allocate up to $500,000 to each of the Federally Recognized Tribes delineated by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

  • Prior to launching the program, NTIA conducted 13 hours of Nation-to-Nation tribal consultation with Native American Tribes, Alaskan Villages, and Hawaiian Homelands to hear the issues facing tribal people surrounding the digital divide and the impacts of COVID to tribal governments, health facilities, educational institutions, and businesses. 

  • The financial impacts of COVID have been exacerbated in rural and tribal communities across the country. The TBCP will fund programs targeted toward making broadband more affordable, including those that provide free or reduced-cost service. There is no matching funds requirement to apply for the TBCP.