Tester Delivers $10.8 Million to Expand High-Speed Internet in Rural Montana

Investments in broadband infrastructure will provide high-speed internet for nearly 1000 Montana households in Big Horn, Stillwater, and Carbon counties

Hundreds of rural Montana families are slated to receive improved access to high-speed internet, thanks to a $10,890,338 grant and loan secured by U.S. Senator Jon Tester through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program.

“It doesn’t matter where you live—high-speed internet is critical in the 21st century,” said Tester. “These funds will help give folks in south-central Montana the tools to stay connected, provide new opportunities for families, schools, and businesses, and bring us one step closer to closing the digital divide.”

The funding will be awarded to Project Telephone Company to create or upgrade broadband infrastructure, improving network connections for 943 households, 160 farms, and 67 businesses in Big Horn, Stillwater, and Carbon counties through a 50 percent grant and 50 percent loan package from the USDA ReConnect Program.

Senator Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to vote for the ReConnect Program when it was approved in 2018. In March, Senator Tester negotiated an additional $100 million for the ReConnect Program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and working farmer in an area with limited cell service, Tester has led the charge to force broadband providers to fix inaccurate coverage maps through his Broadband DATA Act. He recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would compensate broadband providers for giving free or discounted services and upgrades to low-income families in rural areas, and he joined a bipartisan call to establish better access to telephone-based health care for Montanans without internet connectivity.