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The Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project as proposed by Montana Opticom has been accepted for funding under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act via the United States Department of Agricultures' Rural Utility Services Broadband Initiatives Program. This project proposed to bring Fiber to the Premise to each structure within the project area over a 3 year period in order to assist in the economic recovery of the region. For more details please see the links below:

Frequently asked questions

Q:   What is this all about?
A:   President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. According to analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy.

Recovery Act broadband projects help bring down the cost of private investment, attract Internet service providers to new areas, improve digital literacy among students and workers, and help create new opportunities in employment, education, and entrepreneurship by wiring homes and businesses. With new or increased broadband access, communities can compete on a level playing field to attract new businesses, schools can create distance learning opportunities, medical professionals can provide cost-efficient remote diagnoses and care, and business owners can expand the market for their products beyond their neighborhoods to better compete in the global economy.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages recovery Act funding for broadband projects. The USDA Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) establishes a loan, loan guarantee, and grant program designed to increase broadband penetration and adoption primarily in rural areas to foster rural economic development. In addition to providing greater availability of broadband services, the $2.5 billion in budget authority funding provided under the Act is also intended to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project is designed to build infrastructure to bring the benefits of broadband technology to the rural area of the Gallatin River Corridor.

Q:   What is the purpose of the funding?
A:   To build a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) infrastructure that will provide affordable and reliable high-speed data, voice, and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) to 11,864 households and businesses, and 58 critical community facilities within Gallatin County, Montana.

Q:   How many jobs will the project create?
A:   Montana Opticom expects to create over 60 direct jobs. These jobs include Montana Opticom adding 10 fulltime positions to assist in the build out and operation of the proposed network. During construction an estimated 32 independent contractors and 19 engineers and numerous support staff will be required to assist in the build out.

Based on the reporting requirements of the President's Council of Economic Advisers job estimate, the Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project will create 697 job-years. Of the 697 job years created, 446 job-years represent direct and indirect effects and 251 of the job-years are induced effects.

Q:   What is the primary benefit of the project?
A:   To spur economic development in rural areas, particularly to farmers, ranchers, and bedroom communities of the Gallatin Corridor, who are hindered by lack of high-speed broadband.

Q:   How does this benefit local families?
A:   High speed broadband access will assist economic development in rural Montana, provide connectivity to life saving communications and technologies, improve educational, critical community and public safety service offerings, and enhance quality of life to Montana residents and visitors.

Q:   Aside from implementing Broadband, what else does this project accomplish?
A:   This project proposes to improve public safety in the Gallatin Corridor as well as improve the ability to offer telemedicine and educational content. The Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project will provide access to Emergency Responders, Wireless Carriers and Research Facilities to assist in improving and broadening communications through the highly traveled Route 191 canyon that separates Bozeman from Big Sky and West Yellowstone, Montana. It also will enable Interoperability Montana better access to the entire project area as well as improving access to Montana Opticom’s current service area. Through the resilience of fiber optics, the Broadband Project will improve the response time of safety communications throughout the valley. Lastly, it will enable future adoption of emerging technologies that take full advantage of the fiber network.

Q:   What is the proposed project area?
A:   The Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project is designed to build new infrastructure that will bring the benefits of broadband technology to the rural area of the Gallatin River Corridor. The Corridor encompasses the Gallatin River Valley into the southern end of Gallatin Gateway. The service area will include the towns of Manhattan, Belgrade, Four Corners, and Gallatin Gateway. This project area of 153 square miles includes 18,844 people, 7,746 households, 4,176 businesses, and 58 critical community facilities, and will provide voice, video, and data services at speeds of up to 100 Mbps. It will provide end-to-end infrastructure to support the provision of new high-speed broadband services to the rural communities designated as the Census County Divisions of Bozeman, Gallatin Gateway, Belgrade, Manhattan, and a portion of West Yellowstone.

Q:   When will the services be available?
A:   Service will expand over the next three years as the infrastructure is completed. Montana Opticom will provide a delivery of service plan as the infrastructure schedule is determined, and will promote the services and timeline to consumers and businesses in advance of service connection.

Q:   What is the proposed infrastructure?
A:   The project will bring (FTTP) of all homes and businesses in the proposed service area.  This technology allows a service provider the ability to deliver any and all services that are available today and into the future.  Montana Opticom will initially provide voice, IP video, and data services of 20 Mbps and greater.  At present, Fiber to the Premise is the only technology that is capable of sustaining the exponential growth of data services and emerging technologies such as 3D Television, 10HDTV, Video Conferencing, and Video on Demand in HD. These services will be distributed throughout the area utilizing a fully redundant and ring protected transport network. This equipment is the most reliable and stable platform with which to provide these services. They are not subject to radio interference or signal degradation that limit DSL, WiFi, WiMax. These facilities enable Montana Opticom to work towards our goal of 100% uptime.

Q:   What government and public safety partnerships are involved in the project?
A:   Through partnerships with Western Transportation Institute, Interoperability Montana, and the Montana Department of Transportation, and with the support of the Montana Highway Patrol, the Gallatin County 911 Communications Center, the Gallatin County Fire Council, the City of Belgrade, Gallatin County Commission and the Gallatin County Sheriff, the Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project will be able to efficiently use BIP funding to create the infrastructure and connectivity needed to improve public safety. Included in the proposed service area is Route 191, which connects Bozeman to West Yellowstone and Big Sky through Gallatin Canyon. Bringing telecommunication to the canyon, which has one of the highest accident rates in Gallatin County, would improve emergency medical response to accidents in the area.

Q:   What are the benefits to Montana Department of Transportation?
A:   The Gallatin Gateway Broadband Project will assist MDT in their deployment needs in the following ways: 
  • 1. To provide bandwidth throughout the service area utilizing fiber facilities which are not susceptible to atmospheric conditions.
  • 2. The ability to provide additional access points along the fiber routes for MDT use.
  • 3. Within the proposed project area, Montana Opticom could provide connectivity to MDT locations and facilities for real-time access.
Q:   What does this mean to me if I live inside the proposed project area?
A:   High speed broadband access will escalate economic development in rural Montana, provide connectivity to life saving communications and technologies, improve educational, critical community and public safety service offerings, and enhance quality of life to Montana residents and visitors.

Q:   What does this mean to me if I live outside the proposed project area?
A:   You will be unaffected, except as you benefit from greater regional economic vitality and greater public safety when you are within or near the service area.

Q:   What is the process to ensure funds are used properly?
A:   The USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which administers BIP funding, has stringent safeguards, accounting requirements and oversight to ensure proper use of funding.

Map of project area

(Click for larger map.)

External resources

USDA press release
Montana Opticom press release

For more information on the Broadband Initiatives Program, visit


Check out the story as reported on NBC Montana