The choices for hooking up to broadband Internet are taking an interesting turn in Montana this week, as a new provider kicks off construction of new connection options.

It's a move that will certainly drive choice and could lead to a competitive marketplace that might directly impact what you're paying for your connection.

It was over a year ago that TDS Telecom received local approvals to roll out its fiber optic networks in several Montana cities, including Missoula, Helena, Butte, and Great Falls. It already started laying fiber in Billings. The company, which dates back to 1969, has 1.2 million subscribers across the U.S.

Montana fiber rollout starting this week

This week, TDS officials are kicking off the arrival of their service in Montana. Tuesday, Lt. Governor Kristen Juras with a ribbon cutting at the company's new Helena warehouse, which will the basis of operations and construction for the fiber rollout in the capital city.

“It’s rewarding to see this administration’s efforts, to make Montana more business-friendly, come to fruition. Increasing access to reliable broadband is one of our top priorities, and we’re thrilled TDS is bringing greater connectivity to our communities.” -Lt. Gov. Juras

Thursday morning, Governor Greg Gianforte will join Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess with a ribbon cutting at the TDS Fiber Warehouse on Garrymore Lane at 11:30 am. The company has been meeting with the city over the past two days to discuss the rollout of its connections and services, which include Internet, phone, and video.

When the system is complete, the company expects to be serving up to 100,000 homes and businesses statewide. It's already hired 43 people and expects to create about 70 jobs in Montana.

"We are choosing to expand in Montana because we love Montana; it’s open for business and has great people that make even greater TDS associates,” TDS Senior VP of Corporate Affairs Drew Petersen 

Fiber buildout is a multi-year commitment

According to the company's Missoula website "builds in some areas will take several years." However, interested customers can sign up now, and be asked to pay a $25 registration fee, which TDS says will help top begin installations "as soon as the new fiber network is ready."

Prices are expected to range from a $29 a month "Internet only" deal with speeds of 300Mbps for downloads and uploads to a $129 a month "Extreme Home Entertainment" package which includes 1Gbps internet, 115+ digital channels, and unlimited phone service. The company says its fiber network will be capable of speeds up to 8Gbps.

TDS Telecom officials will discuss their plans during an appearance on "Talk Back" with Peter Christian Thursday morning at 8:30 am.

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