BOZEMAN, Mont., Sept. 29, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Kathleen Williams today announced the Department is awarding $8.5 million to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in south central Montana.
“Our rural cities and towns are key to Montana’s character, resilience, and economic diversity,” Williams said. “This investment in high-speed internet will build on those assets as our rural and remote areas connect to better and broader business, educational, and healthcare opportunities.”
Project Telephone Company, known as Nemont, is receiving an $8.5 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect hundreds of rural families, 16 businesses, one educational facility, and 23 farms to high-speed internet in Big Horn and Yellowstone counties in Montana. Project Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by implementing the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program. This project will serve portions of the Crow Reservation, Fort Smith and Pompey’s Pillar areas.
This investment for Montana is included in a group of 32 awards announced as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and providing reliable, affordable, high-speed internet for all. USDA is making the investments through the third funding round of the ReConnect Program. The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet in the coming months, including funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
USDA has announced $858 million in the third round of ReConnect funding so far, including nearly $48 million previously announced for projects in Montana. The Department plans to make more investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks.
On Sept. 6, USDA began accepting applications for loans, with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700 million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million under the ReConnect Program. These funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Governmentwide, the law provides an historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
The application deadline is Nov. 2. For additional information, see page 47690 of the Aug. 4 Federal Register (PDF, 231 KB).
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mt.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.