An $18.9 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will expand internet access to 11 tribal communities in Nevada. It’s one of a number of new funding sources expanding broadband access to rural and underserved communities in the state.
“In the past two years, we have seen plainly and repeatedly just how important equitable access to high-speed, reliable internet and a connected device is for work, education, healthcare, and civic participation,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. “We cannot and will not leave any community behind as we work to close the digital divide. I am proud that my Office of Science, Innovation and Technology partnered closely with the ITCN to successfully submit for these funds.”
The funds will cover the cost of infrastructure to provide high-speed internet to more than 3,000 tribal members. Tribes benefiting from the project include the Elko Band Indian Colony, Lovelock Paiute Tribe, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and Yerington Paiute Tribe.
Deserea Quintana, director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, said the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the gaps in access to affordable and reliable internet access for Tribal members.
“Nevada tribal members lacked access to critical emergency updates, public safety announcements, telehealth services, telecommuting solutions, and remote learning opportunities. This funding will significantly improve the quality of life for our tribal members and is long overdue,” Quintana said.
Fiber optic internet cables will be installed to nearly 1,000 homes along with six tribal government buildings and other “anchor institutions.”
A portion of the funds – just over $8 million – will also be used for training, software and hardware at the same 11 Tribal communities.
The project is one of many that’s part of the High Speed Nevada Initiative launched by Gov. Sisolak earlier this year. Nevada’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) is working with communities throughout the state to expand broadband access.
One program that has seen some success is the Affordable Connectivity Program that provides a $30 per month subsidy for broadband access to low-income families. The program is paid for through federal funding.
OSIT is working with county governments and other entities to secure additional grant funding to cover the costs of other broadband infrastructure projects in the state.