TDS prepping Butte for fiber-optic web

A telecommunications firm and contractors have been in places all through Butte marking streets, sidewalks and yards, and in some instances, digging into lawns to put fiber-optic community traces.

It’s a part of a three-year, $20 million challenge by TDS Telecom to deliver fiber-optic web service to about 15,000 households and companies in Butte. The corporate says web speeds will likely be “10 to twenty occasions” sooner than present  suppliers and when development is accomplished in 2025, it should additionally supply TV and phone companies.


Tom Cronnelly, affiliate supervisor of area advertising for TDS Telecom, attaches a banner to fencing surrounding the development website of the corporate’s new warehouse workplace Wednesday in Butte.

However the work has stirred questions and considerations amongst some residents in Butte who surprise what precisely is occurring, why digging is concerned and what rights the corporate has to dig into their lawns.

The corporate says it has essential easements and permits to do the work and is doing its finest to inform residents when development of their areas is about to start.

Individuals are additionally studying…


Tom Cronnelly, affiliate supervisor of area advertising for TDS Telecom, holds fiber-optic cable whereas visiting the development website of the corporate’s new warehouse workplace.

“Be looking out for a letter, put up card and door hanger,” TDS stated in answering a number of questions from The Montana Commonplace. “These present a easy define of what’s going to/should occur as development nears.”

The work will proceed this fall, subsequent 12 months and into 2025, and to date, Butte-Silver Bow says TDS has gotten all essential county permits.

“On the Public Works facet of issues, they should get right-of-way permits and excavation permits, and so they ship each into us and we overview each,” stated Zane Gleason, a challenge supervisor and compliance specialist with the county’s Public Works Division.

The critiques are executed to make sure work is not going to intervene with identified pipes, cables or different current infrastructure. Gleason additionally visits every space to “be sure that all the things is sweet.”

It has gone comparatively easily, and TDS has been good to work with to date, Gleason stated.

“We had a number of minor hiccups with the beginning however all the things goes good now,” he stated.

Gleason stated he needed to clear up one space of confusion.

“Lots of people don’t perceive that now we have a 5-foot right-of-way from the curb,” he stated. “In lots of conditions, particularly within the downtown, a lot of the sidewalks are (about) 4 ft so we will nonetheless be like a foot into folks’s yards.

“I’ve been getting lots of complaints about that however it’s a public right-of-way,” he stated. “If any person has only a curb and no sidewalk, it may be 5-feet from the curb so they’re digging in folks’s yards.”

Along with the sector work, TDS is constructing a warehouse alongside Wynne Avenue in south Butte that will likely be stuffed with gear to offer fiber-optic web, digital TV and telephone companies.


Development for TDS Telecom’s new warehouse workplace on Wynne Avenue is seen Wednesday in Butte.

Right here is extra data on the work and challenge:

Q: The place is development essential and what are the entry rights?

A: There are a few fundamental designated areas the place utility work and the including of recent fiber-optic community traces usually takes place. In each instances, TDS and our contractors have the proper to work in these areas.

Public Rights of Manner: These often embrace the road, terrace and sidewalk areas. Previous to development, TDS could have obtained allowing from the native municipality to work in these areas.

Public Utility Easements: Like different utility corporations, TDS has the proper to work on utility easements, together with these that could be in your entrance, facet or again yard. If the easement is inside a fenced-in yard, crews will want your assist accessing the world.

Q: What occurs after residents or companies in space are notified about upcoming work?

A: Contractors will mark underground utilities with flags or spray paint. There will likely be sandwich boards within the neighborhood throughout development, and our contractors could have signage on their automobiles.

The property proprietor is chargeable for clearly marking any privately owned underground services (e.g., sprinkler methods, invisible fences, safety methods or personal energy) with flags or spray paint, and calling the development hotline at 1-855-259-8576.

Q: Why is any digging wanted?

A: Digging is important to put down the fiber-optic traces. We’ve been permitted by the town of Butte to assemble buried conduit/fiber at 18-24” depths. All excavation involving elimination of supplies, akin to bore pit places, hand-hole places, and so forth. follows established metropolis environmental compliance overview.

Q: What occurs throughout development?

A: When development begins, we’ll use cable placement strategies, akin to directional drilling, to restrict disruptions within the street proper of means or utility easements the most effective we will. Nevertheless, there will likely be areas the place digging is required and extra excavation is important.

Digging is a standard a part of the development course of. We perceive this creates some considerations for folks, however digging is restricted as a lot as attainable and we’ll clear up and restore the mess.

Our contractors use what known as a “vac truck” for the digging course of. The automobile acts each as a strain washer and vacuum cleaner. Staff use the strain washer to dig, loosening soil solely within the spots they should entry. The vacuum hose is then used to suck up the grime. It is a extremely exact course of designed to reduce mess and disruption to the world.

Q: The place is figure being executed now?

A: We’ve began development south of Interstate 15 and east of Rowe Street. From there, we head south and north of the Airport; then again north towards Floral Park; then proceed into the Greeley Neighborhood space; and eventually as much as Centerville.

Q: We perceive some overhead work is required, and you might be working with NorthWestern Power to connect cables to poles.

A: Sure, in Butte that is each an underground and overhead (aerial) work challenge. There are occasions we do aerial work when the rock could also be too thick beneath or in areas the place it’s extra compact (downtown).

Q: What’s tie timeline for the challenge?

A: TDS began development within the spring of 2023 and we count on to be executed someday in 2025.

Q: Will some prospects be capable to get service earlier than 2025?

A: Sure. As we end development in neighborhoods, we then check the community after which “flip up” that neighborhood. It’s not an all-at-once launch. It’s staggered.

TDS plans to launch its first prospects by the tip of this 12 months and can proceed to launch service all through 2024 and 2025, pending no delays associated to climate or different development delays.

Residents will obtain service faster in the event that they register on-line at We will then assemble “drops” to their house (both underground or aerial) immediately, and they’ll even be emailed when service is able to buy.

Once we do end development in neighborhoods, all prospects will obtain a mailer to their house that orders at the moment are able to be taken. In the event that they don’t pre-register, it could take a bit longer as now we have to return and assemble the drops.

Mike Smith is a reporter on the Montana Commonplace with an emphasis on authorities and politics.