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Nemont To Receive $24.5 Million For Broadband Expansion

The area, through Nemont, will benefit through the USDA’s Reconnect grants for broadband expansion.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has announced that Nemont is a recipient of a $24.5 million grant to improve service in Roosevelt County, Valley County and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The impact includes 1,068 people, 25 businesses and 282 farms.

In addition, Reservation Telephone Cooperative will receive $18.5 million for Richland County, Wibaux County and three North Dakota counties. Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative will receive $4 million for Ravalli County. These recipients were part of round 3 of the program’s grant funding.

During a conference call with media on Thursday, Aug. 4, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochiti Torres Small said that the Reconnect program addresses the telecommunications divide.

Torres Small noted the goal is to make sure that everybody has access to high speed internet.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to that,” Torres Small said.

The application process for round 4 for grants or grant/ loans run from Sept. 6 to Nov. 2. Applicants can include state governments, tribes, cooperatives, corporations and local governments. Funds available include $150 million for loans and $300 for loan/ grant combinations.

“Limited access to broadband networks is one of the top issues facing Montana’s rural communities — and one that was only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic when folks were forced to rely on technology more than ever before,” Tester said. “These resources will not only make it easier for folks across the Treasure State to stay connected, but they’ll also help small businesses expand and create jobs, provide rural students with access to high quality education, and allow folks to access affordable telehealth services instead of driving hundreds of miles to the doctor. I’m proud to have secured these investments that will strengthen our communities and grow our economy.”

The grants were funded through fiscal year 2021 appropriations.

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