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Governor Bullock Announces Expanded Access to High-Speed Internet for Montana Students

Through partnership with EducationSuperHighway, 90 percent of Montana School Districts now meet minimum connectivity goal; up from 77 percent in 2015

Tuesday, January 17, 2017/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced that Montana has made significant progress   to bring high-speed Internet to more schools and students statewide, according to EducationSuperHighway’s annual “State of the States” report [LINK] on K-12 broadband connectivity.

“In September of 2015 we announced a bold, proactive plan for how we could bring high-speed Internet to every school and student in our state,” said Governor Bullock. “Just over a year later, we are clearly on our way to making that happen and ensuring that every Montana student receives the world-class educational experience they need and deserve.”

EducationSuperHighway is the leading national non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America. This year’s report, issued today, finds that:

  • 90 percent of Montana school districts meet the minimum connectivity goal of 100 kbps per student, a significant jump from 77 percent at this time last year.
  • 60,729 Montana students gained access to more bandwidth in their classrooms.
  • 118 Montana school districts upgraded their broadband connections.

The effort to improve connectivity has been evident all across the state.

  • East Helena Public Schools upgraded their fiber from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps with their existing provider, for the same monthly cost.
  • Great Falls Public Schools was able to stay with their existing provider, negotiating within their long-term contract for 330 percent more bandwidth with only an 8 percent increase in monthly cost. The school district upgraded its bandwidth to 1,000 Mbps, enabling more digital learning opportunities in the classroom to better prepare its students for today’s increasingly technology-centric world.
  • In Darby, the school district’s leaders had long been committed to using digital learning to expand students’ educational opportunities, but with a low bandwidth connection and no access to fiber nearby, the administration realized the importance of proactively searching for options to upgrade their infrastructure. Going out to bid for all possible fiber solutions, the district ultimately chose a provider that agreed to construct fiber down an 18-mile stretch to their district, revolutionizing online learning opportunities in the community.

Governor Bullock’s proposed 2019 Biennial budget leverages Timber for Technology funds to create a $2 million matching fund for school districts to leverage an additional $8 million from the federal e-Rate program to pay for fiber infrastructure.

Montana’s complete state data in the “State of the States” report can be found here [LINK]


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