Blackfoot is, and always has been, deeply committed to the communities we serve. We strive every day to provide exceptional customer experiences. In 2016, we began an extensive multi-year, multi-million dollar project to replace the aging copper portions of our network with fiber optics. Fiber-based services will ensure the long-term availability of high speed broadband, voice and other advanced services for decades to come.
To date, this project has been a huge success. But now, we want to do even more. Blackfoot’s Board of Trustees, its dedicated employees and I have set an ambitious goal of bringing fiber-based services to every home and business in our service territory. Finishing our entire service territory will take upwards of 15 years to complete and cost as much as $200 million. Blackfoot has recently received an increase in the amount of federal Universal Service funding it receives. While this federal support is not nearly enough to replace all of our existing copper network with fiber, it is enough for us to get started on the vision of bringing fiber to you.
Importantly, as we replace our aging copper network with fiber, we will need to construct new fiber drops directly to each of your homes or businesses. This means we will need to enter your property to plow new fiber lines. Even if your copper-based service works fine today, we still need to plow fiber as we will be decommissioning and shutting off our copper network over the coming years.
We know how disruptive plowing new fiber to your home or business can be, so we want to work with each individual property owner to minimize any disruption this may cause. After we plow the fiber drop, we will do our best to restore your property to its original condition, including planting new grass seed for lawns and otherwise leaving the landscape undisturbed as best we can.
As indicated, this entire fiber project (for our whole service territory) will take upwards of 15 years. Please be patient with us as it is by far the biggest undertaking Blackfoot has ever done. Know that we are working diligently on planning, designing and engineering this effort. To learn more about this project and to find out when fiber will be coming to your area, please view our FAQs below, call us at 406-541-5000 or complete our Property Access Consent Form.
We are thrilled to bring fiber-based services to your homes and businesses, and I thank you for continuing to place your trust in Blackfoot.
Network upgrade project announced
St. Ignatius network upgrade begins
Arlee/Charlo network upgrade begins
St. Ignatius network upgrade completed
Thompson Falls network upgrade planned
Arlee/Charlo network upgrade continues
Thompson Falls network upgrade continues + fiber expansion planned
Island Park network upgrade continues + fiber expansion planned
We’ve introduced a series of new product offerings with broadband speeds unrivaled by other providers. Contact us today at 406-541-5000 to see what offerings are available in your area. Not sure if we can provide you service? View our coverage areas »
Delivering fiber to rural communities poses unique challenges, including rugged terrain and spanned distances between connections. As we determine the best routes to serve your homes and businesses, Blackfoot has hired two engineering and construction firms to work alongside us in this process, Mid-State Consultants and Diversified Solutions. You may see these partners working in your communities.
Blackfoot is improving rural connectivity by providing a regional fiber network for cellular providers. We're helping connect more cell towers throughout the region with fiber optic circuits, which means more reliable coverage to keep you connected. Watch this video to learn more!
How do I sign up to have Blackfoot plow fiber to my home or business?
Before we begin construction to your property, you will need to complete the Property Access Consent Form or call our Customer Care Team at 406-541-5000.
What is Blackfoot’s network upgrade project?
Blackfoot currently offers services over a network of both fiber optic and copper cables. Some of the copper cables have been buried in the ground for more than 30 years, which is near the end of their useful life, and need to be replaced. Even if your copper service is working fine today, it needs to be replaced in the coming years as it will likely begin to fail. This project is a commitment Blackfoot is making to its Cooperative members to ensure they have continued access to affordable and reliable services for decades to come.
What happens to my yard when you are plowing fiber?
When you fill out our Property Access Consent Form, we ask details regarding your property to ensure we have a clear understanding of your yard and landscaping. After we plow the fiber drop, we will do our best to restore your property to its original condition, including planting new grass seed for lawns. Watch an example of Blackfoot plowing fiber in a yard »
Will this project impact my current Blackfoot services?
Your current Blackfoot service will not be impacted during the construction phase. You will experience Blackfoot construction people on your property for a day or two as they plow the fiber drop directly to your home. At some point after construction (which may be several months), you will be contacted by a Blackfoot service representative to schedule a “cut-over” inside your home or business. This mean your services will be cut-over from the copper network to the fiber network. This process usually only takes a couple of hours, but during that brief time, your Blackfoot service may be unavailable.
The fiber drop has been plowed in my yard, but I don’t have fiber-based service yet. When will I get that service?
Blackfoot’s plan is to construct the fiber drops to all locations within an area first. Once that is complete, we will begin scheduling times when we can enter your home or business to install a new WiFi modem and disconnect your home or business from the copper network and connect it to the fiber network. This may not occur until several months after we have plowed the fiber drop. In the meantime, your existing Blackfoot service will work just as it always has.
If I don’t have data services and/or I only have phone service, do I need fiber?
Yes. As this is a copper replacement project, we will be decommissioning our current copper network at some point in the future. Once fiber is installed to your location, our copper network will be shut down and no longer provide service.
What if I’m not in your fiber construction area?
We are focusing on areas where our copper network is the oldest first. We will replace this copper in the most densely populated areas fist. This will cover 80% to 90% of all locations in each area. After we have replaced the oldest and most dense portions of an area, our goal is to return to those remaining areas and connect them to the new fiber network.
Will you be sending out more information about the project?
Yes! Sign up for Blackfoot email updates here. Look for more details via email, letters, newspaper ads, community events and other communications in the coming months.
Where can I find more information about Blackfoot services?
We have recently rolled out new services and products to our residential and business customers. For more information on these new offerings, please call our Customer Care team at 406-541-5000.