Tester Secures More than $47 Million for High-Speed Internet Connectivity in Montana

Funding will come from the Senator’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

As part of his continued push to bring high-speed internet to Montana’s rural communities, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured more than $47 million from his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for high-speed internet projects across the state. The funding will be awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in the form of two ReConnect Grants benefitting Lincoln, Flathead, Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan, and Valley Counties.

“Getting high-speed internet to folks in rural Montana was one of my top priorities when negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure package,” said Tester. “That’s because as a third generation farmer living in a rural community, I know how hard it can be to try to run a business without access to reliable and affordable internet. These grants will go a long way in getting folks connected all the way from Lincoln County to Sheridan County.”

“The USDA ReConnect program has played a vital role in deploying Broadband in rural America,” said Mike Kilgore, CEO Nemont Telephone Cooperative. “We are excited to learn that our ReConnect 4 application has been approved! With this award, Nemont will be deploying fiber to 9 different communities in northeast Montana, and once complete, the entire Fort Peck Indian Reservation will be 100% fiber to the premise. We greatly appreciate all of Senator Tester’s efforts in promoting modern broadband and mobility for not only Montana, but for all of rural America.”

“InterBel is honored and grateful to have been selected as a ReConnect grant awardee,” said Jason Moothart, CEO and General Manager, InterBel Telephone Cooperative. “This funding secured by Senator Tester will enable gigabit services to some of the most rural areas in Northwest Montana and we look forward to building upon InterBel’s legacy of service to so many Montanans in a lasting and meaningful way.”

A breakdown of the funding can be found below:

  • $34,999,474 – Nemont Telephone Cooperative Inc. (Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan, and Valley Counties) 
    • Will benefit 2,350 people, 115 businesses, 63 farms, and 18 educational facilities
  • $12,095,841 – InterBel Telephone Cooperative Inc. (Lincoln and Flathead Counties)
    • Will benefit 951 people, 36 businesses, and 11 farms

Tester is Montana’s leading champion for high-speed internet connectivity in rural communities. Following Tester’s push, the FCC recently released new and increasingly accurate maps that illustrate what internet service options are available to a particular residence.

Tester also worked across the aisle for months to negotiate IIJA with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House. Tester secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $65 billion to deploy broadband to areas across the country that lack internet access and additionally make online connectivity more affordable. Of this funding for high-speed internet connectivity, the IIJA allocated $2 billion for USDA’s ReConnect Program.