Foundation for Rural Service Hosts Congressional Broadband Tour of Montana


For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2086, lwithers@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (August 20, 2013) –The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) conducted a Congressional Broadband Tour on August 13–16 to four Montana rural telecom companies and broadband-enabled businesses and communities. The tour also included presentations from representatives of two state telecom associations and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

The tour included visits for congressional staff members to Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative (Missoula), Lincoln Telephone Co. (Lincoln), 3 Rivers Telephone Cooperative (Fairfield) and Northern Telephone Cooperative (Sunburst). During the visits, congressional staff had the unique opportunity to hear about the challenges of providing broadband in remote locations. The telcos gave tours of their facilities and construction sites, and conducted fiber installation demonstrations.

The tour also stopped at VisionNet (Great Falls), a technology solutions provider, to see its innovative broadband applications in long-distance learning, telemedicine and public safety, and a broadband-enabled Hutterite colony.

“FRS is excited to be able to conduct this Congressional Broadband Tour once again,” said FRS Executive Director Elizabeth Crocker. “These visits are a great way to give congressional staff members a firsthand look into the operations and challenges of providing and sustaining robust broadband service out in rural communities. We hope the tour paints a clear picture about the role that broadband providers play in supporting education, local businesses, health care and public safety.”

As part of the tour, RUS representatives spoke about the role the agency plays in building broadband infrastructure and on the technical issues and need for long-term planning. Leaders from the Montana Telephone Association and Montana Independent Telecommunications Systems also spoke to the FRS Congressional Broadband Tour about the geographic and financial challenges rural telcos face in providing broadband services to remote and rural areas.

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The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), in cooperation with the NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and its members, seeks to sustain and enhance the quality of life throughout rural America by advancing an understanding of rural telecommunications issues. FRS is committed to educational achievement in rural communities, recognizing that tomorrow's economic and civic development depends on the involvement and commitment of today's youth. Visit us at www.frs.org.

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.