New Program To Provide High-Speed Internet To Osage Nation Residents

The project will build more than 200 miles of fiber optic cabling and install 16 towers for fixed WiFi throughout Osage Nation. An event Monday, March 4, begins at 11:45 a.m. in Pawhuska with a roundtable, tour, and groundbreaking.

Monday, March 4th 2024, 7:33 am

By: News On 6, CBS News


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A new project will soon provide high-speed internet to people living within the Osage Nation.

The more than $40 million Tribal Broadband Connectivity program is part of the Biden Administration's "internet for all" initiative.

The project will build more than 200 miles of fiber optic cabling and install 16 towers for fixed WiFi throughout Osage Nation.

An event Monday, March 4, begins at 11:45 a.m. in Pawhuska with a roundtable, tour, and groundbreaking.

What is the "internet for all" initiative?

President Joe Biden announced the funding in 2023 at the White House and promised, "With this funding, along with other federal investments, we're going to be able to connect every person in America to reliable high-speed internet by 2030." 

He compared the immense task of getting everyone in America online to the electrification of farmland throughout the country which took place in the early 20th century. 

The White House says over $40 billion will go to states and tribal territories with the goal of getting every U.S. household and business access to a reliable broadband internet connection. According to the FCC, more than 8.3 million U.S. homes and businesses lack access to high-speed broadband. 

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo talked with senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe about what this means in practical terms. 

"To do a telehealth visit from your kitchen table or let your kids do their homework at home or work from work remotely … tens and millions Americans can't do that now," she said.

 The $42.5 billion allocation is the majority of $65 billion in funding set aside for broadband internet investment outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by Mr. Biden in November 2021. 

Raimondo noted that there are currently about 8.5 million American households that have no internet, but for "tens of millions more people who have the internet, it's really poor quality."

"They may have a satellite connection, which goes out when the weather's bad or some kind of dial-up," she added.

"This money can be used, not just to lay the fiber, to connect people unconnected, but also to improve people's service and also for affordability," Raimondo continued. "So, some folks have high-quality internet at $200 a month. And so, what we're saying to the providers is it might as well not exist. People can't afford $200 a month, right? So the money is to lay the fiber, but also to make sure everyone has high-quality affordable internet."

The announcement is welcome news for state broadband offices across the country. Each state will be allocated a minimum of $107 million, with additional awards ranging from $27 million to over $3.3 billion, depending on their need, according to a White House fact sheet. Texas is slated to receive the largest award of $3.3 billion. California, Missouri, Michigan and North Carolina will be awarded over $1.5 billion each.

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