Two San Diego tribes receive grants to expand high-speed internet access

Two tribes in San Diego County will receive federal grants to extend high-speed Internet service to their tribal members, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced earlier this month.

The Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians will receive $498,380 and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians will receive $592,110.

The administration aims to improve the social, educational and professional lives of members of the tribal community by providing these grants and improving high-speed internet access on tribal lands, said Andy Berke, special representative for broadband at the Department of Commerce.

“When you have an internet connection, can afford it, and know how to use it, you have more power and control over your own life,” he said. “You can apply for a job, you can connect with people you love, you can get entertainment you may not have had before. With these grants, people will be able to live the kind of life that they wish.

In Viejas, the funding will provide five years of internet service to 215 tribal households located in Alpine, reports the NTIA.

Pauma will use its funding to “reduce barriers to internet use among tribal members of the Pauma Valley” through programs to make the cost more affordable and educational programs to help with telemedicine, distance learning and telecommuting. The funding will also be used to purchase laptops and tablets for members of the Pauma tribe, as well as technology training courses.

In total, the department is awarding 19 grants totaling $77 million in the latest Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program funding round, the Biden administration announced in a May 4 press release. A total of 34 tribal interprojects have been funded since the program began. , totaling more than $83 million.

The only other Southern California tribe to have received funding so far is the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in Riverside County.

In addition to the grants, Berke said the tribes will receive NTIA support through webinars, technical assistance and having access to a planning toolkit.

The tribal grant program is part of a broader effort to expand high-speed internet access across the country, an issue that was exacerbated by the onset of the pandemic when more people began working from home. , take online courses and use telemedicine for non-emergency medical appointments.

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