MACY, Neb. – The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and the Nebraska Indian Community College have received nearly $5 million in federal grants to expand tribal high-speed Internet access, the Department of Commerce announced Tuesday.
The grants are part of the nearly $3 billion Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program and are intended to fund projects to deploy, use and adopt high-speed internet infrastructure to improve connectivity on the land. tribes, according to a press release.
Nebraska Indian Community College Receives $1.243 Million for Fiber Installation Project Directly Connecting 1,272 Native American Homes; the Omaha Tribe receives $3.753 million to install fiber in 19 community anchor institutions and to deploy a wireless network to connect 710 homes and 12 businesses to fixed wireless Internet, and to construct a data server building for the computer equipment, according to the press release.
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The Omaha Reservation is located primarily in Thurston County, Nebraska, and partly extends into neighboring counties. Nebraska Indian Community College operates from campuses in Macy’s, South Sioux City, and Santee, Nebraska, and is affiliated with the Omaha and Santee Sioux Tribes.
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has awarded 60 grants, totaling more than $457 million, under the Tribal Broadband Connectivity program.
Internet access is often lacking on US reservations. According to the American Indian Policy Institute, about 18% of reservation residents lacked internet access in 2019, and 33% relied on smartphones to access the internet.
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. The program makes grants available to Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband internet deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and learning from a distance.