The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Receives Grant for Broadband Connectivity

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Left to right: Timothy Thomas, Sr., Tribal Council; Ayodele Okeowa, Advisor for Intergovernmental Affairs, NTIA; Wilma Simpson-McMillan, Tribal Council, Tyler McCaughn, State Senator; Randy Rushing, State Representative; Choctaw Indian Princess Cadence Nickey; Andrew Berke, Special Representative for High-Speed Internet; Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben; Michael Ted Evans, State Representative; Andy Gibson, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce; Gregory Shoemake, Tribal Council

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has received an $8.43 million Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) grant award from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to fund the Tribe’s broadband program that will provide internet access across Choctaw Tribal lands. An official announcement was made on August 18th before an audience of Tribal members during a school Open House event at Conehatta Elementary School.

“With many school, business and service operations now being conducted online, the need for broadband internet access is more important than ever,” said Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben. “The funds from this Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program Grant Award will provide direct access to broadband inside homes and pave the way for the expansion of Wi-Fi, emergency services, tribal benefits access and more. We will be making high speed broadband service available where, in many cases, none currently exists.”

“As we move forward with technology improvements, the grant funds will support the Tribe with much-needed resources to finally bridge the digital divide and reach our communities quickly and directly,” continued Chief Ben. “On behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, I share our gratitude to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for their consideration and recognition of these needs. Chi Yakokilih (Thank you!)”

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. The Biden Administration’s bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic investment in the expansion of high-speed internet in communities across the country. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed internet infrastructure, create more low-cost high-speed internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

The Tribe applied for the TBCP grant in the fall of 2021. The funding from the grant will be used in part towards the Tribe’s partnership with MaxxSouth Broadband, whereby their existing broadband system will be expanded to serve over 2,000 tribal homes in six of the eight tribal communities. When completed in 2023, tribal homes that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) through MaxxSouth Broadband will have access to a 650MB/sec broadband service at minimal to no charge per month, an unprecedented achievement for Indian Country. Tribal homes interested in this program and want to check their eligibility can call 662.728.8111 or go to MaxxSouth.com/ACPINFO.

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