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Small Town Cooperation Brings in Fiber Network

Small Town Cooperation Brings in Fiber Network

Broadband connectivity is the machine for 21st-century economic growth and fiber optic Internet services aren’t just for metropolitan areas. Rural towns can also benefit from fiber because these services attract remote workers and stimulate economies.

Recently the northwest region of Montana realized how essential reliable and affordable bandwidth is for their economic future. Three local companies — The Health Information Exchange of Montana, the Ronan Telephone Company and MontanaSky Networks — agreed to build a middle-mile fiber-optic network together. The cooperation benefits all aspects of the local economy because increases in bandwidth and provider competition help lure new businesses to the area.

“One of the ways to maintain economic health is to attract high-tech, data-intensive businesses,” Jay Preston Jr. said at a Montana West Economic Development-sponsored forum on May 21. “We’re hoping our project will enable that.”

The cooperation started when Montana Health Information Exchange — a nonprofit corporation founded by five Montana hospitals and two community health centers— received a $13.6 million federal award for a dedicated health-care network. While the new network can only be used for health care, the federal award allowed designers to lay extra fibers to allow for excess capacity that can be leased.

Prior to the new fiber network, businesses in the northwestern area were limited to a T1 line. The new network will offer almost unlimited bandwidth and at lower prices than were previously offered.

“It’s almost unlimited with what these fiber optics what it can do,” Troy Waller of MontanaSky said. “It’s almost an infinite amount. There are gigs and gigs available if customers need it — most customers will never need that much.”

When local businesses and government officials are ready to enhance local high-speed Internet access, GeoTel Communications can provide telecom maps and fiber network maps, which help areas like northwest Montana plan new networks and make informed business decisions. No area is too remote. GeoTel creates custom telecom maps for client requests. If you are interested in obtaining telecom maps, contact GeoTel Communications at (800) 277-2172.

Valerie Stephen