(Missoula Current) A new telecommunications company in Missoula plans to begin laying its fiber network this year, a move that will position it to compete directly with Charter.

TDS Telecommunications will do the same in Lolo, Helena, Butte and Great Falls, the company said Wednesday.

Andrew Petersen, the senior vice president of corporate affairs, said final build preparations are in place and work will begin with the spring consruction season. The network will service more than 100,000 homes and businesses once complete.

“We are thrilled to expand our fiber network to the residents and businesses of these great Montana cities,” Petersen said in a statement. “We are confident our reliable fiber networks will bring these communities the tools for the future.”

When approving the franchise agreement with TDS in 2021, city officials said it marked the first time Missoula had a competitive cable franchise enter the market. That could benefit local pricing and force Charter and TDS to compete for customers and improve customer service.

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TDS said its system will deliver “symmetrical internet speeds up to 8Gig" – a speed the company said was ideal for broadband “super users,” such as those who use photo or editing programs, stream content and play video games.

“The robust connection means subscribers can download and upload files – regardless of size – nearly instantaneously, making it well suited for commercial customers as well as households with large, shared internet needs,” TDS said.

The service will also include all-digital TV service, TDS TV®+, and a variety of phone options for residential and business customers.

TDS is currently building its fiber system in Billings and plans to break ground this year in Missoula.