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A New Study Looks at Feasibility of Bringing First Generation Broadband to Missoula

Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images

About eight months ago, a firm was hired to conduct a feasibility study on bringing high-speed broadband to Missoula. Missoula city council member Caitlin Copple said the study came about after hearing from both the private and public sector:

“We felt that what really seems to be a barrier for folks is that there isn’t the access to affordable ultra high-speed broadband that’s really reliable,” Copple said. “You know, when you’re watching Netflix or something, and you get that buffering thing that happens—that can be a really big obstacle for companies that are sending data packets.”

The proposed network would connect more than 50 public entities to each other including K-12 schools, the University of Montana, healthcare centers and city and county facilities. On Wednesday, city council will hear the proposal which Copple insists will not require a tax increase.

“No tax increases would be proposed and there would not be any sort of public vote on a levy,” Copple said. “It would be service through municipal bonds, so debt service, and then through grants. So, the federal government and the state government have the opportunity to fund something like this and we would also expect a lot of interest from the public sector and then also private foundations.”

Copple said the price tag for the city and county will be around $10 million over five years, but that the broadband service would be able to pay itself off through new savings.

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