Tribal Broadband Funding Secured by Murkowski Heading to Alaska
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, applauded the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announcement of broadband grants, including four grants totaling $41.5 million heading to Alaska. The grants are provided through NTIA’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program was created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which made $980 million available for grants to eligible Native entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. At the end of 2020, Senator Murkowski worked to help negotiate a bipartisan COVID relief bill, which ended months of partisan deadlock.
“Alaska’s geography, terrain, climate, and vast size create significant obstacles to developing broadband infrastructure. We know the digital divide is especially pronounced across rural Alaska and in Native villages. Yet, broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for modern life, providing access to health care, education, and more,” said Senator Murkowski. “I commend the Alaskan applicants in their successful efforts that will begin to bring transformational change to their communities through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.”
“AFN is pleased to be included in this first big group of TBCP awards on behalf of our 74 tribal consortium members,” said Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka. “We would be remiss not to recognize and thank Senator Murkowski, though. None of this would have been possible without her skilled advocacy and legislating ability.”
Alaska Grant Recipients:
- The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) received a grant of $35.1 million on behalf of 73 Tribes, ANCs, and Tribal organizations to reduce barriers to broadband usage among Alaska Natives by providing broadband-enabled devices, subsidizing broadband service, and implementing digital skills and workforce training. The grant will also improve health care access through telehealth.
- The Cape Fox Corporation received a grant of $1.9 million to develop programs and resources to address systemic and COVID-19 related concerns, building capacity to expand internet adoption activities.
- The Kotzebue IRA received a grant of $2.5 million to improve access and use of broadband services for Tribal residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.
- The Skagway Traditional Council received a grant of $2 million to create an affordable broadband program that will provide no-cost, high-speed internet service to the remote Skagway Village.