You've likely seen the sky trains this year, the ones that freak people out as they look just like UFOs lined up and traveling across the sky. These are Space X satellites that Elon Musk has been shooting into space in attempt to supply every corner and place on Earth with internet. In the meantime, families who cannot afford internet have kids who can't get distance learning homework done, and people in rural areas who can't get internet even if they can afford it.

We did get some good news today though. The FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) Rural Development Opportunity Fund has granted our state with more than 145 million dollars to expand high speed internet access to more than 45,000 locations across rural Montana. U.S. Senator Jon Tester made the announcement on December 7th, saying “Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and make sure these resources are deployed quickly and effectively, and ensure no Montanan is left behind.”

These funds will help close the digital gap for homes and businesses and deliver high speed internet service where it's never been offered in Montana before. Contracts were awarded through a competitive bidding process, and providers will have 10 years to complete their projects. The six providers taking part in Montana are Blackfoot Telephone Coop, CenturyLink, Commnet Wireless, Frontier Communications Northwest, Rural American Broadband, Space Exploration Technologies. The FCC awarded $9.2 billion total to support rural broadband efforts, including $886 million to Space X for their Starlink satellite broadband project, that I mentioned in the start of this article.

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