Tester Leads Push to Lower Cost of High-Speed Internet in Montana

Senators to Congressional leadership: “Failing to extend funding would be irresponsible”

As part of his continued push to close the digital divide in rural Montana communities, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today led a group of 31 colleagues in urging Congressional leadership to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in Montana. The ACP helps lower internet bills for 52,103 households across Montana. Due to the program’s popularity nationwide, funds are set to run out in a few months.

Tester created this funding through his Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to bring high-speed internet to families across Montana. Tester worked with five Republicans and four Democrats to negotiate the IIJA and was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the bill.

“We write to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides over 21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access, to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more,” wrote the Senators.

In their letter, the Senators specifically highlight the progress the program has made to bring broadband to millions of Americans, and the toll a funding lapse would take on hardworking families.

“Should ACP funding not be extended, millions of Americans could be at risk of losing access to broadband,” they continued.“We cannot let them face a connectivity cliff by letting this program run out of money with no future assistance.”

The Senators concluded their letter by calling on Congressional leadership to prevent a funding lapse for the program: “We urge you to extend funding for the ACP in a government appropriations package and include a long-term solution that ensures efficient spending of taxpayer dollars.”

As a farmer in an area without cell phone service, Tester has been a Montana’s leading champion for broadband expansion to rural communities. He worked across the aisle for months to negotiate the IIJA, and secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $629 million in funding to get high-speed internet to areas in Montana that lack sufficient connectivity. Tester has also aggressively pushed the FCC to improve broadband access in rural America, and has asked the FCC to take concrete steps to increase the accuracy of broadband maps. In 2019, Tester introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which would increase funding for broadband buildout in rural areas by improving the accuracy of broadband coverage map.

The full letter can be found HERE.