Assistant Secretary Davidson Announced the Awards During an Official Visit to Alaska
At an Internet for All roundtable today in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded two grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These grants, totaling approximately $51 million, are awarded to Doyon, Limited and Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission in Alaska.
These grants will fund high-speed internet connections to 581 unserved Alaska Native households across numerous villages in the Doyon region of Alaska and enable high-speed internet adoption in eight Tribal governments of the Ahtna region for activities including telehealth, distance learning, telework, and workforce development. The grants are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to all Americans.
“The digital divide on our tribal lands, especially in remote Alaska, is stark,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The necessary investment through the Biden-Harris Internet for All initiative provides real change to these communities to participate in the digital economy, whether it’s education, health or jobs.”
“Alaska’s geography, terrain, climate, and vast size have created significant obstacles to developing broadband infrastructure. But rural Alaska is no less deserving of connectivity. For the first time, some of Alaska’s most underserved communities will receive high-speed internet access made possible by the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created this program and made $980 million available for grants to eligible Native entities for broadband deployment. Leading up to its passage, I made sure the program would meet the unique needs of Alaska, with broad eligibility for Native entities. I commend the partnership and coordination of the successful applicants in securing this grant, which will be transformational,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
“Access to high-speed, reliable internet can be life-changing for a community, enhancing the delivery of health care and education, and opening doors for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). “Many of our rural, Alaska Native communities for too long have found themselves without the broadband connectivity that most Americans take for granted. I applaud NTIA for awarding these significant grants to help break down the digital divide in our state, and improve the lives and well-being of Alaskans.”
Assistant Secretary Davidson is visiting Alaska this week to see firsthand the unique challenges and opportunities Alaska faces in implementing high-speed internet service expansion enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“It is humbling to see first-hand how these grants will positively impact the daily lives of Alaskan Natives who have been disconnected for far too long,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “Access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet for these remote villages means the ability to keep customs and traditions alive while providing an opportunity to live in the village and work in good-paying jobs remotely.”
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, makes $980 million available for grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning.
“This is a huge milestone for our communities, and opens doors to opportunities for education, health, safety, and economic development in the Doyon Region,” said Doyon’s President and CEO Aaron Schutt. “This grant will provide Beaver, Fort Yukon, Rampart, Stevens Village, and Tanana, with affordable, high-speed internet for the first time. Doyon is committed to moving forward and creating those middle and end mile connections for schools, clinics, households, and business. This is a life-changing project for many rural residents, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
NTIA has now made a total of 46 awards totaling more than $143,066,000 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These Tribal awards are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America, including American Indians and Alaskan Natives, with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.
NTIA received more than 300 applications during the application window, which closed on Sept. 1, 2021. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will continue to announce additional awards on a rolling basis as they move through NTIA’s review process.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand high-speed internet 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.
For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed internet programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov.