Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4010820
, Jun 22, 2011 --

USDA Rural Development: Telecommunications Program;

Success Story: Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program

Triangle Communications, Montana


Triangle Communications serves the historic and rural countryside of central Montana. The residents of central Montana were in need of up to date broadband services that would allow for increased broadband speed and promote economic development.

How Rural Development Helped:

For more than a decade, Triangle Communications has received a combined total of over $126 million in infrastructure loans. These loans, provided by the USDA Rural Utilities Service, have provided rural areas of Montana with broadband technology that otherwise might be unserved. In 2009, the USDA awarded Triangle Communications an infrastructure loan worth $47.9 million, to upgrade its current copper cable network to a high speed fiber optic cable network. This new high speed network was installed over 900 miles of rural Montana countryside and allowed for every Triangle Communications customer in the telephone exchange of Chinook to receive high speed broadband service. Also, in 2010, the USDA awarded an infrastructure loan of over $38 million to Triangle Communications. This loan financed a fiber optic cable project in the rural town of Fort Benton and will finance additional projects in other towns.

As a result of USDA funding, Triangle Communications is working on upgrading all of their 39 exchanges from copper to fiber optic cable. These new fiber networks provided residents with enhanced broadband capabilities such as high definition video transmissions and high speed internet. The network upgrades made by Triangle Communications have been embraced by local small businesses and have contributed to economic growth in rural Montana.

Recently Chris Halko, owner of Benton Pharmacy located in Fort Benton, Montana, was able to expand his business by opening up another pharmacy 40 miles away in Big Sandy, Montana. Mr. Halko uses the new broadband service to virtually connect both pharmacies on a secure network. This network allows Mr. Halko to review prescriptions and validate medications, through the use of high definition video from either location. Mr. Halko now has the ability to conduct work at both pharmacies from either location. As a local business man and pharmacist, he still provides the hands-on service at both locations to provide the personal connection his customers expect.

Another small business expanding as a result of the installation of the fiber optic network is Montana Grafix. Montana Grafix is a website design business that was started in 2006 by

Heather DePriest and is located in Chinook, Montana. Since 2006, Montana Grafix has expanded from one employee to four employees and the new broadband services has allowed for the new employees to conduct all their business as teleworkers. The new high speed network has allowed Ms. DePriest to access not only her own local market but now she plans to expand her business to the global market.

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