GREAT FALLS — Thursday, December 7th, marked the official launch of TDS with the goal of bringing higher quality, faster internet speeds to Great Falls.
TDS announced their first customer and launch of service at Falls Family Fun, a newly-opened business located at 207 Smelter Avenue NE (website).
"We began in-ground construction in August and we're here in December about to go live with Internet here at this facility," said Raymond Porter, TDS Associate Manager of Field Marketing.
TDS announced in 2022 that it will be bringing an all-fiber broadband network to Great Falls. The company said in a news release that it plans to construct its network and connect nearly 30,000 homes and businesses in Great Falls.
Falls Family Fun opened after the Thanksgiving holiday, providing an "ultimate indoor playground" ranging from crafts to Virtual Reality (VR).
Keely Tingler, owner of Falls Family Fun, said, "We're excited to be working with TDS for our VR portion especially. The internet speed and reliability was very important. We can't have things dropping off. When they came into town we were really excited to partner with them."
During the Great Falls City Commission meeting in May 2022, Mayor Bob Kelly said TDS is a welcome addition to the Great Falls community: "Expanded access to high-speed internet will positively contribute to our businesses and residents' social and economic growth."
The Wisconsin-based company offers more internet speed, with upload and download speeds up to 8Gig available in most areas.
According to Broadband Now, 14 percent of households in Montana are without internet access. Montana also ranks last among all states with only 5.8% of people having access to 1G broadband.
Great Falls-area Chamber of Commerce president Shane Etzwiler noted the importance of TDS' services to the Great Falls businesses.
"TDS Fiber is going to be great for the business community," he said. "Especially those that have a lot of downloads, uploads, a lot of that internet traffic. Just with their speeds, it's just going to be incredible to help businesses in our community."
Porter explained what makes TDS unique relative to other internet service providers.
"What separates TDS from our competition is that we're building an all fiber-to-the-home network," he said. "Straight from your business or home, all the way to our nodes and central office, it's all fiber all the way through, and that's going to have better reliability, and we are offering it at a really competitive price."
Residents can visit TDSFiber.com to register for service, monitor the progress of the build, and sign up for notifications about the new service.
There are no definite "start dates," as the project is being built in phases; customers can connect to the new network once work is completed in their neighborhood.
TDS is also building its fiber network in Helena, Helena Valley, Butte, Missoula, and Billings.