Broadband projects aim to expand access in the Bitterroot Valley

A number of grant-funded projects aiming to expand high-speed fiber-optic internet infrastructure in the Bitterroot Valley are in the planning stages and slated to begin this summer as private companies put American Rescue Plan Act funds to work.

Internet access in the Bitterroot is mainly provided through wireless service providers currently, but there’s only so much bandwidth that can fit over those airwaves according to Grizzly Broadband Executive Director Joseph Smith.

“Especially with the density that we have in the valley, it’s impossible to serve everybody at the same speeds over the air,” Smith said. “So, for example, a good portion of the houses in a Ravalli County, if they can see one of our towers, or one of the other wireless providers’ towers, they’re probably getting 10 megabits per second or less — it definitely varies quite a bit. But with the fiber, for example, our lowest speed is going to be 100 megabits per second. So it’s quite a bit faster.”

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Both Grizzly Broadband and Blackfoot Communications will be working on projects that expand broadband access in the Bitterroot this summer. These fiber projects create opportunities for businesses to

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