Tester Secures $5 Million through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Montana High-Speed Internet Planning

Funding for data collection, public outreach, employee training, and broadband mapping

As a direct result of his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $5,000,000 in National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program funding for the state of Montana to plan and prepare for high-speed internet expansion and implementation throughout the state.

Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate his bipartisan infrastructure law with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it.

“In a state as big as Montana, it’s critical that students and small business owners can stay connected with 21st century tools like high-speed internet,” said Tester. “This funding will allow the state to study and plan to address gaps in our broadband infrastructure, and should pave the road for new projects in the coming year. Working together, and with additional funding from my bipartisan infrastructure law, we’ll bring high-speed internet to every corner of the Treasure State.” 

The Montana Department of Administration will receive a $5,000,000 BEAD planning grant from the NTIA, allowing the state to develop its high-speed internet deployment plan, ensuring that all Montanans have access to high-speed internet. Funding can be used for data collection, public outreach, employee training, and broadband mapping – and ultimately must result in the completion of a five-year high-speed internet deployment plan in 2023 in order for the state to receive its full allocation of BEAD funding. Montana’s full allocation of BEAD funding will be announced by June 30, 2023, and will provide resources for the state to implement its high-speed internet deployment plan.

The BEAD Program was created and funded by Tester’s bipartisan infrastructure law. It is a formula grant program that provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories.

Last year, Tester worked across the aisle to negotiate his bipartisan IIJA, which provided $65 billion in total for high-speed internet deployment in rural communities lacking internet access and affordable online connectivity. In addition to the $42.45 billion BEAD Program, Tester secured $1 billion for the NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program; $1.926 billion for the USDA’s ReConnect Program; $2 billion for the NTIA’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program; $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act Programs; and $14.2 billion for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides $30 a month towards the cost of internet to eligible households. As of November 21, 2022, 32,312 households in Montana have enrolled in the ACP.

Earlier this year, as the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to support the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Senator Tester secured $266 million in ARPA funding to bring high speed internet to rural Montana. Funding was delivered to Montana’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) and Montana’s Capital Projects allocation. Oversight and distribution of state spending will be conducted by the Montana State Legislature and the State of Montana.