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Tester Bill Marks $2 Billion For Internet In Rural Communities

With more Montana families relying on online services for work and education during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced bipartisan legislation March 23 to compensate broadband providers for giving free or discounted services and upgrades to low-income families in rural areas. The senator’s legislation would assist rural broadband providers as they roll out free or discounted services to underserved areas.

“As this pandemic demands more and more Montanans stay home and makes them increasingly reliant on the internet, it’s critical that folks in rural communities can stay connected,” said Tester. “With schools transitioning to online learning and parents relying on internet access to get their next paycheck, rural broadband is more essential now than ever. This bill will help ensure Montanans in rural areas aren’t left behind in the face of this crisis.”

Sen. Tester’s bipartisan Keeping Critical Connections Act will establish a $2 billion fund at the Federal Communications Commission to compensate rural broadband providers with fewer than 250,000 customers for offering free or discounted services to families who are struggling to keep up with their bills due to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a press release, this legislation will help students in rural areas stay on top of their education as they transition to online learning and allow families to stay connected as more Montanans stay home.

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