O'Halleran Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Invest in Tribal Broadband Infrastructure
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01) and Congressman Steve Pearce (NM-02) introduced bipartisan legislation to assist Indian tribes in maintaining, expanding, and deploying broadband systems.
"Access to reliable, affordable broadband is critical for the economic vitality of a region and the educational success of students, but throughout Indian Country, many communities lack even the most basic access to internet. Resources that could be used to invest in an expansive broadband system that connects rural and tribal communities with the wider world are often used up by metropolitan areas," said Rep. O'Halleran. "This legislation is a commonsense solution to close the gap between urban and rural communities by providing tribal governments with access to funds to build and maintain a 21st century infrastructure system. This is not a partisan issue, it is an economic development issue for the region, and I am proud to have the support of my colleague Congressman Pearce on this legislation."
“Throughout New Mexico, rural communities are all too familiar with the difficulties and limitations of accessing high-speed broadband. This affects the livelihoods of many people who are simply trying to apply for jobs, go to school, or stay connected with the rest of the world. Tribal communities, not only in New Mexico but throughout the West, are severely underserved with an increasing rate being left in the dark. I’m joining Congressman O’Halleran today to ensure that Tribes have the technical assistance necessary to access federal funding for deployment, expansion, and maintenance of broadband infrastructure. This is one step of many that will help end the digital divide between tribes and the rest of the country.”
The legislation provides assistance to tribes to identify and apply for federal programs and grants for broadband deployment and maintenance, and it allows tribal governments to establish tribal grant programs for these projects.