A plan to improve broadband Internet access in Montana will undergo public review in Missoula and several other cities in early December.
With one in four Montanans without an internet subscription, the Department of State Administration is figuring out where to deploy $266 million of the US federal bailout law to improve broadband service.
Anyone wishing to check the capacity of their individual Internet service can use an updated interactive map from the Federal Communications Commission. The map is the primary planning tool for nationwide broadband improvements through the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Actwhich has allocated $42 billion for internet upgrades in the Equity, Access and Broadband Deployment funds.
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The map allows people to search by address, provider, area, or download capacity across the United States. find it on Broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home. For locations served, it may indicate the type of technology (copper wire/fiber optic cable/satellite) and download speed capacity and available local service providers.
Last April, communities in Montana were invited to apply for a grant to expand their capacity in fiber optic networks, telecommunications infrastructure and community connectivity.
Public meetings in Missoula as well as Butte, Havre and Miles City will bring together community leaders, internet service providers, stakeholder groups, school, library and health care workers and the general public to l review of grant proposals and next steps for review. Awareness sessions have already taken place in Billings, Glendive, Glasgow, Kalispell, Great Falls and Helena.
Details on specific rewards were not released on Friday. The ConnectMT the website will post the final grant awards in December.