State officials have unveiled an effort to map broadband internet access in Montana at an address-by-address level. The mapping project, which cost the state $750,000, will be used as the state awards grants from a $266 million pool of American Rescue Plan Act money in an effort to encourage private internet providers to fill in gaps where Montanans don’t yet have access to modern connectivity.
There’s a lot of data on the map, which labels more than 700,000 individual addresses as either “served,” “underserved,” “unserved” or “frontier.” The state considers addresses “served” with broadband if they have access to a low-latency connection with download speeds of at least 100 megabits and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.
Here at Montana Free Press, we’re curious how accurate that data is, and have set up this page to make it easy for readers to measure their download speeds.
Step 1: Check your download speed
We suggest using the Ookla Speedtest widget embedded on the state’s official broadband site, connectmt.mt.gov. Note that this is a commercial service that bundles crowdsourced internet speed test data. State officials have said this data is one input they’re using for the broadband map.
If you’re testing your connection speed on a smartphone, check that you’re connected to Wi-Fi, since the broadband map is focused on fixed internet service, not cellular connections.
Here’s that link again: connectmt.mt.gov
Your results should look something like this:
Step 2: Compare to the state broadband map
Zoom in on your address or use the map’s search feature. You should see colored circles indicating the service categorization the state has applied to your home and others.
Note that the orange boundaries represent planned federal broadband efforts. The state has classified addresses inside those areas as “served” to avoid providing redundant funding, even if those addresses aren’t yet meeting its speed standard.
You can also find the state map as a standalone web page here.
Step 3: Complete our broadband availability survey
If you’re so inclined, let us know how your measured speed compares to the map.
Depending on how much response we get, we’re planning to report back with what we learn in the Feb. 18 edition of our weekly MT Lowdown newsletter. If you aren’t subscribed to that and want to be, you can do that here.