Internet service providers are asking the state Legislature to give them a decade-long property tax break on fiber optics they install.

Making it more financially appealing to install high-speed internet would help homes, schools, libraries and businesses in undeserved, rural parts of the state, said Geoff Feiss, the general manager of the Montana Telecommunications Association.

Feiss said the tax holiday would exempt property taxes on fiber optics installed by utilities entirely for five years, and then phase in the value at 20 percent a year over five years until it hits the full tax level. That break would help companies make the investment in high-speed internet, Feiss said.

"In a high-level view, we'd like to remove the barriers to broadband deployment," Feiss said.

The website Broadband Now, which tracks internet access in the U.S., says about 74 percent of people in Montana have broadband coverage, ranking it last among all the states for connectivity. About 25 percent of the population is estimated to be undeserved.


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