Bennet and Hickenlooper Urged NTIA to Fund Ute Mountain Ute Project in July
Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed $22.7 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). This funding was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and was designated to expand high-speed internet network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and health care on Tribal lands.
“Tribal communities too often find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Bennet. “This funding will help the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe connect their communities online and expand opportunities for families, farms, and small businesses.”
“Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues delivering for Colorado. In the last century we connected every house to electricity, in this one we’re going to connect every house to affordable, fast internet,” said Hickenlooper.
“This grant will fund much needed broadband infrastructure to benefit 2,100 members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, serving all households in White Mesa and businesses, as well as the broader community. Along with additional funding received for Towaoc in 2022, both communities will have better internet coverage for business, education, healthcare, telehealth, tribal government services, e-commerce and more. The funding will greatly help our members and their families connect, learn, and grow,” said Chairman Manuel Heart.
Bennet has long advocated for expanded internet access for rural and tribal communities. In June 2021, he introduced the bipartisan Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act, which would have provided $40 billion in flexible funding to states, including $2 billion to Tribal governments, to promote broadband access, speed, and affordability. The BRIDGE Act was later incorporated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is now making the largest investment in U.S. history to deploy affordable, high-speed Internet across Colorado and the country.
The NTIA grant announcement is part of nearly $1.35 billion awarded to 94 Tribal entities across the country as part of the TBCP. The grant to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe will help install two middle-mile routes, along with fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) infrastructure to connect approximately 817 Native American households, 7 Tribal businesses, and 36 community anchor institutions. Bennet and Hickenlooper wrote a letter to NTIA in support of the Ute Mountain Ute’s project in July 2022.