Montana Telecommunications Association’s Geoff Feiss

As part of Vision Net’s commitment to statewide broadband, we are proud members of the Montana Telecommunications Association. We sat down with General Manager Geoff Feiss to learn about the partnership between Vision Net and MTA.

Tell us about MTA
We represent the rural broadband providers in Montana; not the large national providers. We have 11 member companies, and they range from companies with fewer than 1,000 customers to more than 20,000 customers. Our member companies cover about 70% of Montana’s land mass and employ over 1,000 people across the state, with close to $100,000,000 invested annually across the state.

Tell us about the Vision Net/MTA partnership
It is a close and wonderful relationship. My member companies are your shareholders and beyond that, I like to brag about Vision Net’s advanced communications infrastructure. Recently, Vision Net hosted congressional staffers to show the Broadband Access management system Vision Net operates. MTA enjoys showing off Vision Net’s NOC, which was a highlight of the congressional staffers’ tour.

Geoff Feiss speaks at the 2021 Share the Vision Conference

What does 5G look like for Montana?
For Montana, 5G offers potential, but we need to differentiate the types of speeds we can deploy throughout the state. We mostly deploy mid-band 5G in Montana that propagates very well and provides the coverage needed. We connect the transmitters throughout the state with our fiber network to provide connectivity throughout the state, with a concentration on the urban areas of the state. Rural connectivity remains a priority for MTA.

Has the Vision Net/MTA partnership benefitted Montana communities?
A lot! Vision Net is an internet access provider that offers coordination between MTA and Montana communities. In your interview with INDATEL, Mel highlighted the advantages for small rural providers to be a part of the national map. We collaborative and aggregate our services, and Vision Net uses that aggregation to expand and leverage what small companies can do into a larger national footprint.

What are the results from the Vision Net/MTA partnership?
I ask Vision Net to help out in the public policy arena, especially for the state’s 911 network. Since Vision Net operates the state’s e911 network, and since I am on the 911 council, I reach out to Vision Net for operational advice for public policy.

What does the future hold for Vision Net and MTA?
We exist to help create an environment wherein our member companies can grow and continue to deliver broadband to the communities they serve. We pave the way from an economic and political environment for our member companies to exceed their customer’s expectations. We remove obstacles where we can, so that they can continue to deliver broadband. For example, this year, we passed legislation that allocates $275,000,000 of funding for broadband grants to expand broadband throughout Montana. And since by some measures Montana ranks at the bottom nationally for broadband access, Connect Montana was enacted to provide funding from the American Rescue Plan to improve broadband deployment throughout Montana. MTA strives to lift Montana out of the ‘basement’ and into the middle of the pack for broadband connectivity nationwide. The recent legislation represents one of the most progressive and robust opportunities to expand broadband infrastructure throughout the state.

What additional insights can you offer?
Keep up the good work, Vision Net!

Watch Geoff’s full video here: