State BEAD Plans and “Chilling Effect” of Municipal Broadband Restrictions – Montana’s Five Year Action Plan


One major barrier to providing universal access to fast, reliable and affordable Internet service–long recognized by ILSR, telecom experts, and a growing number of ordinary citizens–are the monopoly-friendly preemption laws that either outright ban or erect insurmountable barriers to building publicly-owned, locally-controlled broadband networks, aka municipal broadband.

Currently, 17 states have such preemption laws, most of which have filed their Five Year Action Plans and/or their Initial Proposals. In each of those states, at the behest of Big Cable and Telecom incumbents, state lawmakers have erected legislative barriers to municipal broadband to protect the monopoly players from competition, which is at the very heart of why the digital divide exists in the first place and why tens of millions of Americans suffer from the slower speeds and higher costs that go hand in hand with monopoly service.

A handful of other states with municipal broadband blocking preemption laws have also submitted their Five Year Action Plans or Initial Proposals. They include: Georgia, Montana, Utah, Virginia, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

BEAD Five-Year
Action Plan
State of Montana
Montana Broadband Office
Montana Department of Administration


In surprise vote, Montana House Republicans (and incumbent companies) kill Democratic municipal broadband proposal. “(Providers) just do not show up in those small towns”

“(Providers) just do not show up in those small towns,” “We’re trying to show the people of Montana that we’re trying … but we’re getting thwarted at every turn,”

Broadband bill to allow Montana municipalities to provide service gets hearing in House committee

“We are falling behind in our economy, and people are feeling it,” Kortum told the House Local Government Committee Tuesday afternoon. “Let’s give our towns the freedom to innovate and design broadband solutions that fit their unique needs.”

LC1539 – An Act Allowing Montana Municipalities to Own and Operate Municipal Broadband Systems

States without restrictions enjoyed higher access to low-priced broadband plans on average.

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