Digital Divide Blog Posts

On November 18, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the pre-production draft of its new broadband availability map. This map gives an initial look into broadband availability nationwide. While this map is an improvement of earlier maps, there are still inaccuracies on Tribal lands. U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband explained at a December, 2022 hearing that prior maps were so insufficient that they omitted entire communities. At the same hearing, there was concern that although the new map is an improvement, it is still missing critical Tribal information. Therefore, the FCC’s new map challenge...

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now accepting applications for the Tribal Libraries E-Rate Pilot Program. This pilot program is designed to help new Tribal applicants apply for E-Rate support through one-on-one assistance, and also with ongoing support during invoicing and other post-commitment processes. Applications to apply to this program are due by Friday, November 18, 2022

This past year, Tribes and Tribal allies were successful in their advocacy to include Tribal libraries in E-Rate eligibility. The FCC adopted new rules on January 27, 2022 to clarify that Tribal libraries would be eligible for E-Rate support. Now that Tribal libraries are eligible for the E-rate Program, the FCC...

AIPI congratulates the Arizona Tribes and Tribal entities who were awarded with new Broadband funding over the last few weeks. On August 30, 2022, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced $105,846,128.07 in grants to five Tribal entities in Arizona. The NTIA awarded grants to Hopi Telecommunications, Inc., Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, San Carlos Apache Tribal Council/Triplet Mountain Communications, Inc., and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. NTIA estimates that these projects combined will connect 33,300 homes to broadband internet. AIPI and the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that 18% of residents on Tribal lands...

On January 21, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopting the final rule for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program. The final rules include notes on benefits for covered services and devices, household eligibility requirements, the program’s budget and reimbursement, among other regulatory aspects of the ACP.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford necessary broadband for everyday life. The ACP provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per...

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) will use a $10 million grant to support a national digital equity program, with a focus on rural and Tribal communities.

 

At the 2022 Net Inclusion conference in Portland, Oregon, NDIA announced that they had received a $10 million grant to create a National Digital Navigator Corps. A portion of the funding will also go to AMERIND to support a digital navigator program on Tribal lands.

The National Digital Navigator Corps is a program long in the making. Digital navigators are people who offer one-on-one support to community members accessing the Internet or using devices like phones or laptops. They offer on-the-ground support for...

At long last, Tribal libraries fully qualify for E-Rate broadband internet subsidies.

Tribal libraries are often located in remote areas and can serve as community institutions expanding broadband access. Only about 21 percent of people on Tribal lands have broadband access.

Tribal libraries vary across the U.S. and are often defined by the communities in which they reside. In its most basic definition, a Tribal library is a space on a reservation, in which a concept of a library exists and Tribal members acknowledge and recognize it exists. Tribal libraries function to support the unique needs of the community. It can range from a small shelf of books in a...

**UPDATE** As of February 17, 2022, the USDA has extended the deadline for ReConnect Program Funding to March 9, 2022.

The Rural Utilities Service, through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement to announce that it is accepting applications for the Rural eConnectivity Program (the ReConnect Program) in the fiscal year of 2022. 

The ReConnect Program, established under the 2018 Appropriations Act, provides grants, loans and grant/loan combinations for funds involving construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible Tribal governments and socially vulnerable communities. 

For this funding cycle in the fiscal year of 2022: 

  • Applications will be accepted until

  • ...

Program Overview

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) is now the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP replaced the EBB on December 31, 2021. An additional $14.2 billion was appropriated to the ACP to continue offering broadband service discounts and device reimbursements for qualifying households. The main changes to the program are:

  • The benefit amount will change from $50 to $30 a month on non-Tribal Lands

  • Households on qualifying Tribal Lands will still receive a monthly benefit of $75 a month

  • Changes in eligibility criteria: Loss of income and eligibility through their provider’s COVID-19 program will no longer be considered

New enrollments for the ACP will began on December 31, 2021. However, there...

As the Federal government transitions to the Affordable Connectivity Program, it is worth analyzing the impact of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program (EBB), established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, began accepting applications on May 12, 2021. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the program to establish greater accessibility to broadband internet by providing discounted broadband service as well as discounts on broadband enabled devices to qualifying low-income households. Broadband access arose as a top priority in the last two years and accessibility inequities across the nation were especially highlighted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This update will offer insight into...

During this year's Native American Heritage Month, Tribal leaders and high-level White House Officials constructed discourse with respect to issues important in Indian Country.  The 2021 Tribal Nations Summit (the Summit), hosted by the White House, was held on November 15th and 16th. This is the first time the Summit has taken place since 2016. The Summit presented a unique opportunity for nation-to-nation dialogue on support to Tribal communities to create opportunities, advance equity, and address new and long-standing challenges. Topics addressed included Infrastructure, Native languages, climate change and COVID-19. Several members of the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) attended the Summit.

The Summit commenced by releasing the “White House Tribal...

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