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USDA Invests Almost $48 Million for High-Speed Internet Access in Rural Montana

Sue Kerver
Release Date
Jul 28, 2022

BOZEMAN, Mont., July 28, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is investing $401 million to provide access to high-speed internet for 31,000 rural residents and businesses in eleven states, including almost $48 million in Montana. This announcement includes a group of investments from the ReConnect Program, and an award funded through USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program.

The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet later this summer, including ReConnect Program funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

“The lack of access to high-speed internet and inability to connect are issues we see agricultural producers, business owners, and communities struggling with across Montana,” stated USDA Rural Development State Director, Kathleen Williams.  “We are excited to be part of the solution by providing ReConnect funding which will allow for the infrastructure and equipment needed to make high-speed internet available and affordable to 2,298 people, 97 businesses, four schools, 420 farms and five rural counties throughout the state.”

As part of today's announcement:

  • Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc, is receiving $4,014,840 to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will serve 89 people, five businesses and 47 farms to high-speed internet in Ravalli County. Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by offering low cost options offered at speeds sufficient for multiple users to simultaneously telework and engage in remote learning. Blackfoot will participate in the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline Program and the Affordable Connectivity Program providing discounts on broadband services. 
  • Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Inc. is receiving $24,972,692 to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 1,058 people, 25 businesses, and 282 farms to high-speed internet in Roosevelt and Valley counties. Nemont Telephone Cooperative will make high-speed internet affordable by offering a suite of broadband services designed to be simple and target residents and businesses on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. All services offered are symmetrical and capable of supporting multiple simultaneous users for many applications including teleworking and remote learning. This project will serve the socially vulnerable communities in Roosevelt County and on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
  • Reservation Telephone Cooperative is receiving $18,501,541 to deploy a fiber-to-the-home network. This network will connect 1,151 people, 67 businesses, four public schools, and 91 farms in Richland and Wibaux counties in Montana and Dunn, McKenzie and McLean counties in North Dakota. Reservation Telephone Cooperative will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program. This will give eligible residents up to $30 discount per month off of their service. This project will serve the Fort Berthold Reservation Tribal Entity.

Background: ReConnect Program

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.

For more information about the ReConnect program, please contact Montana's General Field Representative, Peter Hawkes, at (208) 339-1104 or peter.hawkes@usda.gov

Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can make full use of internet access.

USDA Rural Development is an investor, ally and advocate for rural America and provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs 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 areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mt.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.