Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State seeks proposals to expand access to rural broadband

The FCC says one in three Montanans don't have access to broadband internet.
playb/Getty Images/iStockphoto
The FCC says one in three Montanans don't have access to broadband internet.

Montana officials are looking to distribute $266 million in federal stimulus funds to expand access to broadband internet. Applications for proposed projects are now open.

State lawmakers and the Department of Administration are seeking applications from private broadband providers who have proposals to reach unserved and underserved communities, particularly in Indian Country.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, about one in three Montanans don't have access to broadband, which is three times higher than the national average; among rural Montanans, three in five do not have access to high-speed internet. The state launched an interactive map Monday to show who’s lacking access.

State of Montana

In a statement, Gov. Greg Gianforte called the effort "a historic investment to get fiber in the ground and close the digital divide."

The funds for broadband projects come from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Democrats in Congress. Gianforte has condemned the passage of the massive stimulus bill as reckless spending, but has said the state aims to use the money responsibly.

Providers who are awarded federal funds must match 20% of the cost of their projects.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.