The Roundup -

Department Announces Montana Is A National Leader In Broadband Planning

 

December 28, 2022 | View PDF



Helena, MT - Following Governor Greg Gianforte’s $309 million investment to expand access to reliable broadband, Department of Administration (DOA) Director Misty Ann Giles announced Montana is helping lead the nation in planning for the next round of broadband investments.

“Montana continues to make an impression on other states in how we are leading our broadband program and making investments to close the digital divide,” Director Giles said. “We look forward to continuing our work to bring affordable, reliable broadband to more Montanans.”

In May 2022, DOA began planning for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

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 spring, Montana will submit to NTIA its 5-year action plan. 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 – have informed the action plan.

“Thanks to our swift action this year, Montana is in one of the best positions in the nation to continue increasing access to reliable broadband,” Governor Gianforte said. “The proactive, diligent work of our broadband team ensures a responsible investment to close the digital divide for our communities, kids, and grandkids.”

The funding of the planning process – engineering, strategy and planning, stakeholder engagement and public outreach, and data mapping – will maximize Montana’s opportunity for funding.

Through the BEAD Program, Montana will receive a minimum of $100 million to improve broadband coverage across the state.

Last week, 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, approving the recommendations of the Communications Advisory Commission.

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

 

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