The Day – Mashantuckets awarded $493K grant to expand internet access

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has awarded the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe a $493,000 grant to expand internet access.

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced the awarding of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grant in a joint news release this week.

“It’s just a reality that access to high-speed internet is as much of a necessity to modern life as electricity,” Murphy said. “It is unacceptable that tribal communities are often hurt the most by the digital divide, and this federal funding will help provide affordable international service to households in the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.”

Blumenthal said the funding will ensure Mashantucket Pequot households are connected to affordable, high-speed internet, “an important and indispensable necessity in this day and age.”

“High-speed internet is an essential part of modern infrastructure, and we’ve got several tribal and rural communities here in eastern Connecticut that have been waiting for years to see serious investment put towards making their internet speeds and bandwidth competitive with others,” Courtney said. “Now, as we keep working back to full speed following the pandemic, hundreds of households, workforce skills training staff, small businesses, and others in the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation are going to see increased internet access and speeds.”

The funding will help 163 tribal households, workforce development staff, and tribal institutions address COVID-19 challenges that have impacted tribal members, according to the lawmakers’ news release. The project intends to provide affordable internet service and equipment for tribal members in addition to creating a workforce development center.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a $980 million initiative. 

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