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BILLINGS (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has committed $30 million to improving high-speed Internet service in rural Montana.

The loan to Triangle Telephone Cooperative was announced Monday. It is about 40 percent of a four-state telecommunications loan package to improve broadband service in rural areas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says residents of areas without high-speed Internet access are cut off from business opportunities and health care advantages that most people take for granted.

Havre-based Triangle is a 16-county central Montana cooperative stretching from the Canadian border to Wyoming. The loan will be used to lay Internet fiber in regions around Gilford, Hingham, Kremlin, Loma, Rudyard and Winifred, where people currently rely on copper fire for Internet.

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