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Gov. Gianforte signs SB 297 with (seated left to right) Sen. Jason Ellsworth, Jessica Foster, Rep. Sharon Greef, and Mark Grotbo, Dominic Farrenkopf, Victoria Clark, and Jason Pond, May 11, 2021.
Gov. Gianforte's office

Funding for projects to expand high-speed Internet across Montana is moving forward under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte.

A bill that would provide tax relief to telecommunications companies that install broadband infrastructure in Montana is one step closer to being signed into law.

Elliston Republican Rep. Becky Beard said incentivizing companies to lay high-speed internet infrastructure would create jobs and economic activity in a state that currently ranks among the nation’s worst in broadband access.

“We have to have high-speed internet to function competitively. Even ask our schools about this necessity. It’s been a lifeline for so many of us," Beard said.

Network cables plugged in to an internet router
iStock

Ahead of a Wednesday deadline, Montana lawmakers endorsed one bill and rejected another that aim to increase access to the internet.

Labels on the back of CSKT servers name the locations of four cellular towers on that are broadcasting high-speed internet over roughly 1,300 square miles on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

The build-out of wireless broadband networks in Indian Country may get a boost from a new $1 billion tribal broadband fund. The federal fund was set up by the latest COVID relief bill late last year.

Concept image of cables and connections for internet data transfer
iStock

Rural internet providers across the country are waiting on the federal government to finish giving directions on what to do with recently banned Chinese equipment. The delay is adding uncertainty and costs to efforts to narrow Montana’s digital divide.

About three quarters of Montanans have broadband access. But that access is less prevalent in rural parts of Montana, which are home to the state’s seven Indian reservations. Federal coronavirus relief funding is helping some tribes to build their own wireless broadband networks, shrinking the stark digital divide on reservations.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.

Network cables plugged in to an internet router
iStock

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester says rural America is now one step closer to better broadband coverage.

The Broadband Data Act that cleared the U.S Senate this week is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk where it’s expected to be signed into law.

Network cables.
(PD)

Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines helped reintroduce a bipartisan bill Tuesday that would bring high-speed internet to rural parts of the state.

In a press release, Daines says the bill cuts red tape and better allows companies, state and local governments to install broadband infrastructure on federal land.

Gov. Bullock Highlights Partnership To Improve Internet In Montana Schools

Sep 14, 2015
PD

Governor Steve Bullock held an event in Bozeman to highlight a new public-private partnership working to bring broadband internet service to schools across the country at little- to no-cost.

A public-private partnership is working to bring broadband to schools across the country at little- to no-cost.

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