Governor Greg Gianforte today signed into law the ConnectMT Act, providing $275 million in federal funds to expand access to reliable broadband across Montana.
“Too many of our communities, particularly in rural and frontier Montana, don’t have access to reliable broadband,” Gov. Gianforte said in Hamilton. “Greater access to broadband will increase opportunities for Montanans, whether in ag or high-tech or other Montana industries, but we need to get more cable in the ground. Today, we make a historic investment to close the digital divide. I thank Sen. Ellsworth for being a champion for expanding Montanans’ access to broadband.”
Sponsored by Senator Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton), Senate Bill 297 captures $275 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for broadband deployment.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 1 in 3 Montanans do not have access to broadband, which is three times the national average. The digital divide is even greater in Montana’s rural communities where 3 in 5 Montanans do not have access to broadband.
“Thanks to Governor Gianforte signing SB 297 into law, Republicans’ promises to create jobs, increase access to high-quality education, and improve our broadband infrastructure are being kept,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Jason Ellsworth. “With the potential for additional matching funds still on their way, this could be the largest broadband investment in Montana’s history – worth around half a billion dollars. There’s no doubt that this investment in Montana will pay major dividends for state of Montana.”
Expanding access to reliable broadband is a central element of Gov. Gianforte’s Montana Comeback Plan.