Governor Gianforte Announces $628 Million To Expand Broadband Access

Governor's Office
  • June 26 2023

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today announced the State of Montana will receive more than $628 million in federal funding to expand access to reliable broadband in unserved and underserved Montana communities.

“Lack of broadband access shouldn’t stand between Montanans and opportunities for a good-paying job, greater education, and affordable, high-quality health care,” Gov. Gianforte said. “This generational funding will support Montana as we close the digital divide and open the doors to greater opportunities for all Montanans.”

The funding is made available through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which the Montana Department of Administration (DOA) began planning for in May 2022.

Shortly after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the funding opportunity, Governor Gianforte issued Montana’s letter of intent to apply for the planning grant, and DOA submitted the BEAD planning funding application packet.

On Dec. 12, 2022, DOA Director Misty Ann Giles, who leads the state’s broadband program, was notified of a $5 million BEAD planning grant award, with the planning process already well underway.

This month, the Communications Advisory Commission approved Montana’s 5-Year Action Plan, which DOA will submit to NTIA in July.

Months of local outreach and coordination activities – including two statewide roadshows, a tribal summit, a statewide internet survey, and one-on-one interviews with community leaders, telecommunication providers, and other parties – informed the action plan.

“Access to reliable and affordable broadband in today’s economy is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Montana lags behind other states in access to broadband, largely due to our state’s vast size and our beautiful, yet unique topography, making the cost of deployment significantly higher in comparison to other states,” Director Giles said.

She continued, “This historic investment will allow us to close the gap and reach unserved and underserved Montanans with reliable high-speed internet. Montana has been ahead of the curve with its planning efforts in anticipation of today’s announcement, and we’ll keep the pace to receive the necessary approvals from our partners at the NTIA to successfully deploy these dollars.”

Last fall, Governor Gianforte announced a separate, historic $309 million broadband investment to expand access to reliable broadband for 62,000 families, small businesses, farms, and ranches in Montana.

According to the Montana Broadband Office at DOA, 5 percent of Montanans live in underserved areas and 13 percent of Montanans live in unserved areas.

Expanding access to reliable broadband is a central element of Governor Gianforte’s Montana Comeback Plan.