NTIA Releases NOFO for Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program

On June 3, 2021, NTIA released a Notice of Funding Opportunity setting forth the rules and procedures for the $980 Million Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (“the Program”).  The Program will award grants to eligible entities for the purpose of expanding broadband access on Tribal lands and for programs that promote the use of broadband to access remote learning, telework, or telehealth resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, the following eligibility criteria applies:

  • Eligible Entities: Only entities that qualify as an “eligible entity” will be eligible to receive funding under the Program. For the purposes of this Program, the following qualify as eligible entities:
    • A Tribal Government;
    • A Tribal College or University;
    • The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on behalf of the Native Hawaiian Community, including Native Hawaiian Education Programs;
    • A Tribal organization; or
    • An Alaska Native Corporation.
  • Eligible Uses: Grants funds awarded under the Program may be used for the following purposes:
    • Broadband infrastructure deployment projects (including support for the establishment of carrier-neutral submarine cable landing stations)
      • Infrastructure projects may deploy new broadband infrastructure, replace antiquated infrastructure, or upgrade existing infrastructure.
      • These projects can include, but are not limited to, cable, fiber, wireless, fixed wireless, and satellite. However, NTIA encourages submission of projects that will deploy “future-proof” infrastructure to the extent feasible.
      • Proposals to conduct planning, engineering, feasibility, or sustainability studies will be funded as part of the necessary step to develop a technological solution for broadband deployment.
      • NTIA, as directed by the Act, will prioritize construction of new broadband infrastructure that will serve currently unserved households.
    • Projects that promote the adoption and use of broadband services, including:
      • Affordable broadband programs, such as free or reduced broadband service, preventing disconnection of existing broadband service, and other such programs;
      • Distance learning;
      • Telehealth
      • Digital inclusion efforts; and
      • Broadband adoption activities, such projects that offer broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support, improve access to and use of broadband services, and stimulate the adoption and use of broadband services by Native communities, among other such programs.
    • Qualifying Service: In order to qualify for funding, the broadband service must meet the following speeds: (i) a download speed of not less than 25 megabits per second; (ii) an upload speed of not less than 3 megabits per second; and (iii) a latency sufficient to support real time, interactive applications.
    • Award Amounts: NTIA has been allocated $980,000,000 for this Program. Not less than 3% of the total funding ($30,000,000) will be allocated to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on behalf of the Native Hawaiian Community.  Up to $500,000 will be allocated to each of the Federally Recognized Tribes delineated by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Funding awarded under this Program must be utilized within one year of receipt, however, extensions may be sought under certain circumstances.  NTIA expects that it will award grants within the following funding ranges:
      • Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Projects: $1,000,000 to $50,000,000
      • Broadband Use and Adoption Projects: $50,000 to $2,500,000.
      • Entities requesting funding outside these ranges must provide a reasonable explanation for the variance in their project size.

Applications are due by 11:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time on September 1, 2021 (if sent by mail the application must be received by that date).  Eligible entities are required to submit one application, which must include the total amount of funding being requested and account for all projects that will utilize the funding requested.  Application forms and specific information on how to apply is available on the NOFO’s Grants.gov webpage (the link provided above) under the “Package” tab.

Additional information can be found on NTIA’s Broadband USA Website.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

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