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Officials cut red tape to speed up tribal internet projects

Two agencies have joined together to streamline high-speed internet projects in tribal communities. (Image via Clipart)

Two federal departments tasked with bringing high-speed internet service to tribal communities are expediting the process.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced an agreement Aug. 9 to streamline environmental permitting for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).

The agreement allows high-speed internet service to be deployed quickly while also ensuring that the safeguards in the National Environmental Policy Act stay in place to protect Native lands and its environmental, historic and cultural resources, a news release said.

“Tribal communities are long overdue to gain access to life-saving technologies, economic and educational opportunities, and countless other benefits of high-speed internet,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Alan Davidson said in the release. “We are streamlining and creating efficiencies within the federal government to ensure tribal communities get the resources they need quickly to close the digital divide on tribal lands.”

The TBCP is part of the Biden administration’s “Internet for All” initiative, which offers grants to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for high-speed internet deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning, the release said.

The amount available for high-speed internet grants is $2 billion.

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