Red Cliff Receives $8M NTIA Broadband Grant
High-speed internet and broadband coming to tribal homes, businesses
August 25, 2022 – The Red Cliff Tribe has been awarded an $8 million grant from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) to bring qualifying broadband service and high-speed internet to all tribal homes, government programs, and businesses within Red Cliff tribal jurisdiction. This also includes tribal member households off the reservation in the neighboring Town of Russell and tribal member households within the Belanger Settlement.
“This is an incredible award for the Red Cliff Tribe here in Gaa-Miskwaabikaang,” said Red Cliff Chairman Christopher Boyd. “Providing high-speed internet to every home, business, and program on our Tribal lands opens opportunities for our membership and community to access more education, increased telehealth services, job opportunities, and economic growth. Our rural community has faced many disadvantages due to the lack of reliable and affordable internet access, and the Tribe is relieved to finally be able to close the gap with the rest of the country. For our future generations to thrive, we must keep up with the times. Our Tribal Nation would like to recognize our former IT Director Theron Rutyna along with our Planning Administrator Nicole Boyd for their hard work in bringing this project to fruition. Chi-Miigwech to the NTIA for this award.”
Households, Businesses, and Community Anchor Institutions
The project will install 80 miles of fiber optic cable, serving nearly 700 connection points. This includes unserved businesses, tribal government programs, households, and lease sites. Off reservation, the project includes 12 tribal member households in the Town of Russell and 15 tribal member households within the Belanger Settlement. There are over 50 Tribal Government entities, Tribal-owned enterprises, private businesses owned by tribal members, and other community institutions on the reservation.
Attention Community Members – Digging and Hookup Operations Being Scheduled
To complete this project in bringing high-speed internet and broadband to you, crews will be working to dig and connect these fiber-optic cables to your homes. Please stay tuned for updates of when you can expect this work to happen. Work with Engineers and Environmental Assessment teams will begin immediately with installation soon to follow. The estimated full completion date is Spring 2025. Notices will be posted in the weekly Miisaninawiind newsletter, online at www.redcliff-nsn.gov, through the Tribe’s official Facebook page, and directly to households.
This grant award and Fiber to the Home Project comes after a series of previous technology infrastructure developments: AT&T/FirstNet tower brought cellular service to Red Cliff in 2019; A Wisconsin Public Service Commission grant connected Red Cliff to Bayfield with 3 miles of fiber-optic cable in 2020, setting the stage for this Fiber to the Home Project; Another grant in 2020 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs allowed the Tribe to conduct a full feasibility study of broadband on the reservation; Also in 2020, the Tribe received a FEMA Tribal Homeland Security Grant to install surveillance, cybersecurity, and WISCOM communications throughout the reservation. These developments have also increased the Tribe’s emergency communication and emergency response efforts.