The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) has announced that they have officially accepted a $25 million USDA grant intended to cover the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband internet service in eligible rural areas such as the Colorado River Indian Reservation. CRIT will utilize American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide the required cost share to assist with completing the project.
The infrastructure funded by the $25 million USDA grant will include the installation of 191 miles of fiber that will serve 876 locations on the Arizona side of the Colorado River Indian Reservation with broadband internet capable of speeds of 50mbps, 100mbps, and 250mbps. The USDA officially announced the grants June 12th.
“CRIT is currently in the process of reviewing the grant contract and initiating the administrative side of the process; this takes some time,” said CRIT Tribal Administrator Kim Stube. “The project will go out to bid with a projected start date of early 2024. We also intend to apply for funding in the future to service the California side of the Colorado River Indian Reservation.”
CRIT Chairwoman Amelia Flores called the announcement a “game changer.”
“Broadband access is essential to serve the needs of our community,” she said, “and it profoundly impacts our quality of life. Remote learning, telecommuting, conducting business, and simply staying connected should not have to be a challenge for those living within a reservation or a rural community. This grant and CRIT’s commitment to wisely use these funds is a game changer for tribal services, tribal enterprises, local schools, local hospitals, agriculture, and every aspect of tribal life that involves technology.”
The exact locations of the 876 service points on the Arizona side of the river has not been released at this time.
In other infrastructure news, Upriver customers of Verizon Wireless say they are unhappy with their service in the area. La Paz County Supervisors approved a zoning change for a new cell tower in February 2021. Getting APS power to the tower took 9 months, with public comment and other infrastructure issues causing further delays.