Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Three years after finalizing its cable agreement with the city and county of Missoula, TDS Telecommunications on Monday officially launched its new broadband service and connected its first local customer to the system.

TDS is now Missoula's second broadband provider, the other being Spectrum.

“We are aggressively connecting customers in Montana to what they want and deserve – a reliable network that delivers some of the fastest internet speeds in the country,” Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Drew Petersen said in a statement.

According to TDS, its fiber network delivers speeds of up to 8 Gig, allowing customers to download and upload a file “of any size nearly instantly.” The network also features a variety of phone and digital television options.

TDS received a franchise agreement from the city and county of Missoula in 2021 and, at the time, it estimated the cost of laying its local fiber system at $3.5 million. Three years ago, local officials said that Missoula had never had a competitive cable franchise enter the market, until now.

Some believe that will benefit consumers with better service and pricing. Missoula residents have seem similar competition between waste management companies, Republic Services and Grizzly Disposal. The latter received approval from the Montana Public Service Commission to enter the Missoula market in 2022.

TDS will continue building its Missoula network in phases and is following a similar plan in Helena, Butte, Billings and Great Falls.