Funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Hickenlooper and Bennet helped pass last year
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet announced $43.7 million in federal funding for the Southern Ute Indian Ute Tribe to deploy high-speed internet to nearly 1,800 Native American households, 16 community institutions, and 14 businesses. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $65 billion to connect every household to high-speed, affordable broadband.
Hickenlooper was part of the bipartisan group of 22 senators who negotiated and wrote the law. Through the broadband working group, Hickenlooper helped deliver the largest federal investment in broadband access and affordability of our generation. In June 2021, Bennet introduced the bipartisan Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act to provide billions in flexible funding to states, including $2 billion to Tribal governments. The BRIDGE Act which was later incorporated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To date, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has delivered over $1.1 billion to Colorado, of the nearly $3 billion in funds announced already and more expected.
“When we said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would connect every house to fast, affordable internet, we meant every house,” said Hickenlooper. “Tribes have waited too long for connectivity. That changes today.”
“Tribal communities too often find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Bennet. “With this funding, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe can bring their families, farms, businesses, and schools online, help communities within the reservation boundaries improve their broadband services, and begin to close that digital gap.”
“The Southern Ute Tribal Council made the deployment of affordable, high-quality, high-speed broadband internet on the Reservation a top priority. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is honored to be awarded this funding and with this grant we can now focus on making this important goal a reality and truly bridge the digital divide that exists within our Tribal Lands. The money that we will receive from this award will go to connecting our Tribal Members and other Native Americans living within our Reservation. It will also set the stage to enable improved access for non-native residents, schools, municipalities, and businesses that will benefit from the deployment of our new broadband infrastructure,” said Southern Ute Indian Tribe Chairman Melvin J. Baker.
This National Telecommunications and Information Administration funding announcement is part of nearly $1.35 billion awarded to 94 Tribal entities across the country as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The grant to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe will help install fiber directly connecting 1798 unserved Native American households, 16 anchor institutions, and 14 businesses with service of at least 250 Mbps of symmetrical download and upload speeds.