Microsoft Corp. and Native Network, an organization that helps tribes connect with modern communications technology, are looking to provide broadband Internet access to approximately 73,500 people in Washington and Montana, including on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The effort is part of a broader effort by Microsoft to extend broadband Internet access to 2 million people in underserved portions of rural America by 2022.
According to a press release announcing the plan to bring better Internet service to the Flathead Reservation, there are 19.4 million people living in rural areas in the U.S. that lack access to a broadband Internet connection.
No timeline has been set for when broadband service would be available on the Flathead Reservation.
“Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century and is critical for farmers, small-business owners, health-care practitioners, educators and students to thrive in today’s digital economy,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “The partnership with Native Network will help close the digital divide in rural Montana and Washington.”
Gov. Steve Bullock applauded the announcement.
“Our Indian nations and all of rural Montana should have the same expectation of wireless connectivity as those living in more urban areas. We’re looking forward to seeing this technology employed in service of some of our most remote citizens and appreciate the hard work of Microsoft in deploying it.”