USDA Awards $12 million to Bring High-Speed Internet to Lincoln and Flathead Counties

The investment will deliver internet access to rural residences, businesses and farms in northwest Montana

By Denali Sagner
Eureka on Nov. 5, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday announced an investment of over $47 million in two telephone cooperatives that will increase high-speed internet access across six rural Montana counties.

“Internet access is a necessity for Montanans to participate in the many needs and opportunities online in education, healthcare, business, keeping in touch with loved ones, and more,” USDA State Director for Montana Kathleen Williams said in a press release. “At USDA, we are working to make sure rural Montanans have the same opportunities as their urban neighbors in all these important areas, so we can ensure Montana remains a place of opportunity for those who live, work, and raise their families here.”

Through the USDA ReConnect grant program, InterBel Telephone Cooperative in Eureka received $12,095,841 to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises high-speed internet network. The network is set to benefit more than 900 rural residents, 36 businesses and 11 farms in Lincoln and Flathead counties. InterBel will also participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs — initiatives that offer discounts to low-income consumers to increase internet affordability.

The USDA also announced that Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Inc., based in Scobey, received $34,999,474 to increase high-speed internet access across northeastern Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Valley Counties.

The U.S. Census Bureau in 2021 estimated that 85.2% of Montana households have a broadband internet subscription.  

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