BREAKING: Tester Announces $125 Million Investment in Rural Broadband in Montana
Tester: “Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and make sure these resources are deployed quickly and effectively, and ensure no Montanan is left behind.”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced Montana will receive more than $125 million to expand high-speed internet access to more than 45,000 locations across rural Montana.
The funds are available through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and will be allocated to providers to help close the digital gap and deliver high-speed internet service to unserved homes and businesses. Tester will now work to hold the companies receiving funds accountable through his role on the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Fast, reliable internet service is critical, especially as we continue working, learning, and socializing from home,” Tester said. “But too many folks in Montana have slow, unreliable internet or don’t have access altogether, and this groundbreaking investment will help bring those homes and businesses into the 21st century. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and make sure these resources are deployed quickly and effectively, and ensure no Montanan is left behind.”
The RDOF funds will help providers build out broadband internet infrastructure to areas where access is currently unavailable. Contracts were awarded through a competitive bidding process, and providers will have 10 years to complete their projects.
The six providers participating in Montana are:
- Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc. – $12,703,077.60 in 2,687 locations
- CenturyLink, Inc. – $28,379,920.90 in 9,658 locations
- Commnet Wireless, LLC – $5,964,913.70 in 2,078 locations
- Frontier Communications Northwest, LLC – $5,818,165.30 in 1,874 locations
- Rural American Broadband Consortium – $226,116.00 in 209 locations
- Space Exploration Technologies Corp. $72,723,246.20 in 29,478 locations
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 is leading a bipartisan push to make permanent provisions expanding access to telehealth created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
He recently secured $10.8 million to expand access to high-speed internet service in rural Montana through the ReConnect Program.