This week Senator Steve Daines spoke with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Rural Utilities Service asking officials to consider extending broadband services to Montanans that currently don’t have service. Daines encouraged legislators to focus on “unserved communities, not just improving speeds for those who already connectivity.”
“Thanks to the dedication of Montana companies like Triangle Communications, residents of the Rocky Boy and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservations have access to broadband for the very first time,” Daines said. “However, the broadband access on tribal lands continues to be an issue. In fact, high-speed broadband on most tribal lands in Montana is virtually nonexistent. Since ’09, the USDA has awarded nearly $20 million in funding to provide broadband service in tribal areas.”
Daines asked Rural Utilities Service Administrator Brian McBride what the U.S. can do moving forward to connect tribal communities.
“We are trying to expand our outreach to tribal areas and help them understand the programs that are available to them and potential applications,” McBride said. “Earlier this year, we funded our first substantially under-served tribal area telecom application in New Mexico. That was a great project there that brought fiber to the home in that area. We are certainly open to this and would be happy to work with your constituents on this.”
Daines said the investments in broadband infrastructure present opportunities globally that Montana could potentially lead from right at home.