Tester Secures Major Investment to Expand Wireless Coverage in Montana

Senator’s Push to #ConnectMT Takes Major Step Forward

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured a major investment to expand wireless 4G LTE coverage in Montana.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced Tuesday morning that a large portion of Montana is now eligible to expand wireless coverage using the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund. The FCC’s announcement comes after Tester urged the commission to commit resources from the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund to increase wireless coverage in rural America.

“Every Montanan has shared the frustration of a dropped call or a failed text message as a result of poor wireless coverage,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Commerce Committee. “This announcement paves the way for a major investment to install new cell towers, update communication infrastructure, and expand wireless service to rural areas across Montana so families can stay connected and we can eliminate the gaps in cell service across our state.”

In 2015, Tester launched his #ConnectMT initiative and brought FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Montana to show him firsthand the communications challenges facing the state. Tester and Wheeler specifically discussed increasing wireless infrastructure investment to rural communities through the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund.

The Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund was created to provide resources and incentives to local telecommunication carriers to expand wireless coverage in rural areas.

As a result of the FCC’s announcement, over 50,000 square miles of Montana will now be eligible to receive funding to expand wireless coverage through the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund-about one-third of the entire state.

The exact funding amount is yet to be determined, but Montana is estimated to receive 13 percent of the total funding distributed by the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund, which is the second most amount of funding as any state in the country.

As part of Tester’s #ConnectMT initiative, he has pushed to fix a broken USDA rural broadband initiative, passed legislation to improve rural call completion, and pushed to increase access to high-speed broadband in rural communities.

The areas in Montana that are now eligible to receive funding through the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund are highlighted HERE.