Thursday, March 2, 2023

Your library's web presence

 These days if your library can't be found on the web, it may not exist to a lot of people. So, it's important to establish and maintain a web presence. Luckily there are a number of ways to do this.


The first and easiest way is to claim your library as a business in Google search. You start with a simple Google search. 

You'll probably find something like this

You'll notice that one of the links provided following the basic information is - Own this business? By clicking on that link, you can set up an account where you can update the information and view reviews and searches. This is probably the first place people will come who are new to your library. So accurate hours and contact information as well as a few photos can be very helpful.

Social Media

There are lots of social media sites. You're probably going to have to pick and choose. The most important consideration is which site(s) your library's patrons use most. In particular, which sites are most popular with your target audience. But also, which sites do your staff or volunteers who will be keeping up your social media use and feel most comfortable with. You may want to reach teens who you know are on TikTok or YouTube but you don't have anyone comfortable with video. So, you may want to opt for Instagram instead and focus on still photos. You can work your way toward video. And some of these platforms make it easy to string together still photos, add captions and music and create a video. Facebook is still popular for a lot of libraries due to its wide reach and fairly user friendly creator pages where you can invite multiple people to contribute content at varying levels. The important thing about any social media account is to post content to it regularly. 


 There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on a website for your library, e.g., domain name, web hosting and web building software. If you want to spend the money, you can pay a single company to provide all of these services for your library. The prices will vary from a few dollars a month for a simple site with little storage and few features to around $30/month for a business level site with e-commerce options. You probably don't need that, especially when you're just starting out. You can also find a few free options where you can find some fairly simple web building tools and a site that will host your pages. You will have to put up with advertising and you won't be able to use your own domain name on these. There are also some that are free to try. You can opt to pay if you decide you like it. Something I would definitely suggest if you are new to website creation.

Free with ads

  • Blogger - this is the software MT Bibliotechies uses. It is blogging software and has its limitations as far as library web pages are concerned. But it is easy to set up and use and you can buy a domain name for your library from Google for as little as $12/year. 
  • Google sites -  Google also offers a free website builder with a limited number of templates. You can use their URL or your own domain name as above.
  • WordPress - WordPress is the web building software behind many websites. It's also available via There is a free version available with ads. You can also find low cost versions including domain name hosting for as little as $5/month - paid annually. WordPress is a powerful tool but can have a bit of a learning curve.
    Anytown library sample website
  • - Wix is a popular and easy to use website builder used by several Montana libraries. They do offer a free version that comes with ads. They will constantly try to upsell you, however. It looks like their cheapest paid plan is $16/month and includes domain name hosting.
  • - Another free website builder and host. The good thing about these is you can try them out. If you come up with something you like, you can always choose to upgrade and pay later. The downside is the proprietary website building software can make it difficult to move if you should decided to do so down the road.

Domain Name Registration

First of all, why do we care about domain names? If most people are just going to put your library's name or the name of your town and library in a search engine to find you, why bother with a domain name at all? If you're going to use it in a lot of places: ads, posters, bookmarks, newspaper articles, it's a bit easier and looks better than the URL you're going to get from a free site. For example, I started playing around with designing a free site on Wix for Drummond and was given this unhelpful URL - Admittedly, a domain name is not necessary and if you're just planning on linking your website to city/county web pages and ASPeN, you can probably choose to forego the extra expense. But if you'd like to have one or would like to get one in case you want to use it in the future, there are a number of places you can go to register a domain name. Just keep in mind that you will also need a web host with many of these. So, separate domain name registration is best when you're just reserving a domain name for future use, or you already have a web host you're going to use that doesn't include domain name registration. It's also good practice to continue to register a domain name that your library might have used in the past, even if you're not currently using it. I can recall an incident where a library failed to renew and their domain ended up being used by a Russian porn site. That's not where you want people to go who are looking for your library
  • Hover - this is the one I use. I started using Tucows years ago for software and continued on with Hover. Just an easy to use service with good customer support. It can be a bit more expensive than some of the others but we're talking about a few dollars a year. They don't offer web hosting or web building services so they won't try to upsell you.
  • Google Domains - as mentioned in the section on Blogger and Google Sites, Google will register your domain names for you. It's probably most useful and convenient if you're using other Google tools but they do claim to work well with a number of trusted partners.
  • Forbes Advisor - The Best Domain Registrars of 2023 - if you want to shop and compare various registrars.

Website Hosts 

You'll need a server somewhere to host your website. In years past, it might have been a service that your ISP provided. Perhaps your city or county hosts your website. If so, they may also have templates and/or website creation software they require you to use. They may also include your library as part of their larger domain. So you might have a URL that looks like <> or <>.

But in many cases, you're either going to choose to go with a free with ads web host or pay for one. As with the free ones listed above, including their paid versions, many will offer to take care of all of your website needs for you: domain name registration, website hosting and website creator tools. That's great if you find one that you like, at the right price that's easy for you to use. Having it all in one can make it more of a challenge to move, should you decide to do so at some point in the future. Also be forewarned that the great prices and freebies you see offered are often just your initial sign on price. It will go up after your initial sign up period. The great $2.95/month is also only available when you pay  for a year or more in advance. That said, a smaller library probably doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles and can probably get a pretty good price. It looks to me like the on-going price for most basic WordPress host sites is about $10/month. 

If you look at a lot of web hosts, you'll see that many use WordPress as their site creator software. That makes it easier to move. The templates you use on one host will probably be available on another. There are also a lot of tutorials and help available. But there is a bit of a learning curve. Some web hosts have their own proprietary site creation tools - largely templates - that can make it really easy and fast to set up a nice looking website quickly. It can be frustrating for anyone with more website knowledge who wants to get under the hood and customize. It would also be difficult to just move one of these proprietary sites to a new web host should you decide to do so. You'd probably have to start over again.

Check out the free with ads sites above, particularly if you're new to website creation. You can try one or more out for free and see if it works for you. If so, you can choose to pay to remove ads and/or attach your domain name. Some other web hosts to consider:

  • GreenGeeks - okay, I like the name. I set up a website for a nonprofit with them several years ago. No complaints. They use WordPress. They have a promo price of $2.95/month for their cheapest option. It goes up to $10.95/month regular price.
  • DreamHost - never used them myself but recommended by Forbes for new WordPress users. Promo price of $2.95/month. Regular $6.99/month for starter plan.
  • SquareSpace - a popular all in one website host using their own proprietary custom site builder software. They have a wide variety of templates and a logo maker. I've used it with a nonprofit website. I found it pretty easy to use. The person I turned it over to hated it but she hated all things tech - the perfect webmaster. :D You can do a free trial. Pricing starts at $16/month paid annually. You might be able to get a promo discount as they advertise on a lot of podcasts.
  • ONE TO AVOID -  GoDaddy - I managed a website for a nonprofit that was hosted on GD and had a horrible experience. The treasurer for the group was upsold to a managed plan we didn't need without consulting me. This involved a site migration which made our site inaccessible for weeks. Getting it back online took hours on the phone on hold and with customer support. One had to refer to another. We continued to have problems for several months. Their prices may be cheap but you get what you pay for, in this case, very poor customer support.

Forbes Advisor  10 Best Web Hosting Services (March 2023) - Forbes list gives you other options to check out.

Tech Radar Best web hosting services of 2023 - Tech Radar has its own rating. You can check out which web hosts they recommend. But even more helpful is their explanation of various services and terminology at the bottom of the page.

Friday, October 28, 2022

How much broadband does a library need?

 The FCC set bandwidth goals a while back of 25/3 Mbps upload and download speeds for home use, 100/10 Mbps for libraries serving under 50K, and 1 Gbps and up for libraries serving 50K and over. I'm not sure what year it was. Doing a quick search today in 2022 unearthed a National Broadband Plan from 2010. The executive summary talks about a goal of 100 Mbps service for 100 million households and 1 Gbps for anchor institutions such as schools and libraries.Nevertheless, I believe the more modest numbers are buried in that 12 year old plan.

Hmm, 12 years in technology. A lot has happened since then. 2010 is when the iPad was first introduced. And a lot has changed in that time as far as Internet usage goes. Netflix was still in its early days as a streaming platform, having only begun that service 2007. At that time it was sending out DVDs and streaming. By 2010 it had turned its focus to streaming content. That is about the time that we saw a major transition away from text based content, e.g., web pages and emails and to visual content, e.g., Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. And people are not only consuming visual content but they're creating it and uploading it to these Internet sites.

And yet, most Montana libraries are still at 2010 and earlier bandwidth levels.

This is from the data reported to 2020 Public Library Statistics. From this we can see that 1/3 Montana public libraries don't even meet the FCC standard for home broadband. 2/3 don't meet the standard for libraries. That number is even larger if we include the 17% who didn't report any numbers. 

And yet, I've heard from some library directors whose libraries run test in the 20s that their Internet is fine. No one is complaining. Why fix something that ain't broke?

Libraries have an important role to play in bridging the digital divide in their communities. We do this in a number of ways, one of which is to provide computer and Internet access to people who have a need to perform a variety of tasks. We're doing them a disservice if all we offer is text based access in an increasingly video world. And that's basically all we're offering when decide that 25/3 is good enough. The fact that no one is complaining is probably more due to the fact that they've learned all they can do at the library is check their email and Facebook rather than they have no need for greater bandwidth. And we've also come up with a stop gap by checking out hotspots. Yes, the library's Internet may be inadequate, take this hotspot and get the bandwidth you need at home. That may be a solution as long as funding is there, but eventually funds are going to have to be found to provide that needed bandwidth at the library as well.

One of the problems with limited bandwidth is that it doesn't accommodate multiple users, particularly over wifi networks. Let's go over some networking basics starting with a basic network diagram courtesy of the Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit:

There are a lot of articles available on the Internet explaining various aspects of networking. I particularly like LifeWire and HowStuffWorks for fairly accessible articles that provide a useful amount of detail. I'm going to simplify quite a bit here.

Just about all Montana public libraries have both wired and wireless networks. They start with  a broadband device that connects to the Internet, often a modem for cable or DSL. The maximum speed for any of the devices on the library's network will depend on the amount provided to the library by their Internet Service Provider. If you're getting 25/3 meaning 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, no device on your network will be able to get more than that regardless of your cabling or wifi equipment. In fact, you will probably get significantly less than that per device.

The wired network is considered both more reliable and more secure. There are generally a fixed number of devices on this network. This may include staff computers, public access computers, printers. They are connected by ethernet cables and are connected to the modem via a hub or switch and a router, with or without a separate firewall and then to the modem. Overall speed can be influenced by the type of ethernet cable used as well as whether you have a hub or switch. An up to date switch will offer greater speed.

A wireless network is connected via a wireless router and/or a wireless access point. It can support a virtually limitless number of devices. But performance will suffer. Overall speed on the network can be influenced by the router or access point and the type of wireless connection it supports. As if often the case with technology, older devices offer slower speeds. This won't make a big difference if your ISP is only offering you 25/3 but it will slow things down considerably if you're making a service jump to 300 Mbps and your router only supports the wireless standard 802.11n (introduced in 2009). This is limited to around 150 Mbps. It can also be influenced by the age of the device used to access your wireless network. Older devices will generally only support older standards and slower speeds.

So, you have the most up to date networking equipment and devices. As stated previously, they're going to be limited by the speed of the connection coming into your library. In addition, devices on your wifi network are going to have to share the connection and bandwidth. If you do the math, you can see how a number of devices can slow down your network pretty quickly. BroadbandNow has a speed test and a series of questions to see just how much bandwidth you need depending on number of devices and type of usage. I ran a test on a public library and got the following results - the first with 10 or fewer simultaneous users. The second with up to 15. 

You can see how simultaneous users bring up the bandwidth needs considerably. If you're doing straight math, it's easy to see. 10 users on 100 Mbps each get 10 Mbps. If we're talking about a 25 Mbps connection, those 10 users only get 2.5 Mbps.

A 2017 study funded by the Knight Foundation came up with the following table showing minimum, adequate and aspirational speeds for libraries for 2017 and the future:

 Consumer Reports has a fun little calculator How Much Internet Speed Do You Need? where you can try combinations for different numbers of users doing a variety of activities.

Hopefully, you can see that it's increasingly difficult to justify that an Internet connection of 25/3 is adequate. One of the challenges for libraries is that we generally have multiple users. Many of our users are accessing files and programs over the Internet including staff using ILS systems. And with people increasingly just logging onto our wifi, we may not know how many people there are on the network at any given time nor what types of programs they might be using. Are they downloading or streaming video? Are they processing photos or videos online? Are they taking part in online classes? If we want to be offering them Internet that genuinely helps meet their needs, we're probably better off scaling up rather than scaling down.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Offline moves to Fall 2021

 Offline has traditionally been a mid-winter conference held in February. Those of us frequent attendees can attest that winter weather can often present challenges either coming or going.

This year, it was decided to combine Offline with the ASLD/PLD retreat held at Chico Hot Springs in the fall. The following is from Mitch Grady:

Hear ye, hear ye,

Our planning team is looking for your proposed sessions for this year's joint Fall-Offline RetreatSunday October 3rd and Monday October 4th at Chico Hot Springs Resort in Montana's world-famous Paradise Valley.

Sessions may be on any1 topic. We would especially like to see your presentations on library technology, and subjects pertaining to academic and special library work.

This will be the first (!) in-person MLA event since the pandemic and related fiascos turned our lives upside-down and/or inside-out. Let's get back together! Carefully and safely. And funly!

A program proposal form is attached. Please return it to any of Syndie Tallman (sydnie.potillo at, Brittany Dolezal-Herwig (bdolezal at, Abbi Dooley (abbid at, or Mitch Grady (mgrady at by September 4th and we'll see you at the Retreat!

1Library-related, preferably. Or not? Tell us what you got.


Program Proposal Form

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Library iPad Tips

First of all, update your new iPad to the latest OS. As of this post, it's iPadOS 14.1. You will find it under Settings>General>Software Update. When it's up to date, you'll see a message with the current version "Your software is up to date." From that same page, you can set it up to do Automatic Updates. 

Next, I would recommend keeping it simple. Don't use Touch ID. Use a simple 4 digit code perhaps with the library's phone number or street address. Only load apps as you need them or have requests for them. We provided some ideas in the handout for some potentially useful free productivity and meeting apps. It probably wouldn't hurt to load Pages and Numbers for those who might need to do some work or schoolwork. If you've got Google Chrome users, the Google apps could be useful. They could also be accessed via a browser, however. You might also choose to delete any of the Apple apps you don't think people will use or that you don't think are appropriate on a shared device. These can all be deleted now: Books, Calendar, Contacts, FaceTime, Files, Home, iTunes Store, Mail, Maps, Measure, Music, News, Notes, Photo Booth, Podcasts, Reminders, Shortcuts, Stocks, Tips, TV, Voice Memos. If you delete an app and find out later that your patrons want or need it, you can always reinstall it from the Apple app store. Don't link your account to a credit card unless you really need to buy apps.

For my home screen, I made use of the widgets for weather, news and calendar. You can use the Calendar app to post library events. I'm just using Apple News and you can set the weather for your locale. I deleted a lot of the Apple apps and grouped many of the rest into a folder. That librarian thing. 
iPad home screen

I don't know if there's any way to really lock an iPad down without using Mobile Device Management but you can make changes in settings that will make it less likely for a borrower to accidentally change, delete or save information. I would focus on iCloud for privacy and security. It's a wonderfully convenient service to be able to share info and apps across devices. But this is not what you want to do in a library setting.
Go to Settings and click on your Apple ID at the top of the screen. I turned off everything but Calendars and News. You can even turn those off if you're not going to use them and/or don't plan on using them on multiple devices. It's probably not as  important if you only have one iPad. Just do your best to keep it clean of personal information from your users. Erase and reset will take care of that. If you have more than one device using the same Apple ID, you really don't want information shared across devices. One setting I would definitely turn off immediately is Keychain. That enables one to save passwords across apps and across devices. That is a huge privacy and security risk. I experimented with setting up this iPad up as a child device under family sharing. I found I was unable to change or even access any of the Apple ID settings while signed in as this status. I wasn't sure about the advantages of family sharing and "child accounts" before, but controlling settings seems like it could be a benefit. It might be something to consider.
iPad iCloud settings
I hunted down and turned off iCloud storagel.
iCloud storage settings

Another setting I would look for under Apple ID is Find My and turn on Find My iPad. This will enable you to locate the iPad if it is reported lost.
Find My iPad settings

 When you have the iPad set up to your satisfaction. Back it up to iTunes. 

If one is determined and willing to dig around in settings, I don't see a way to prevent intentional mischief. As I mentioned earlier, best practice should probably be to erase the iPad after each use and restore from the original backup in iTunes. To reset go to Settings>General>Reset. And click on Erase All Content and Settings.

iPad Reset Image

Then restore it from the backup you made in iTunes. This will erase any content your patron(s) might have added such as library account information, photos, etc. And it will restore your setup and settings for the next checkout.

Restore your iPhone, iPad or iPad touch from a Backup - Apple Support

Make a note of what works and doesn't work for you. We'll be planning an upcoming webinar to share some best practices and apps on these devices.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Quick Start Guide for Zoom Meeting Hosts

  1. As with any other new technology, it's helpful to have attended a few meetings and learned how to navigate and customize your settings as a participant before you attempt to host your first meeting. Luckily, such opportunities abound.
  2. The main difference between hosting and attending a meeting is the ability/responsibility to keep the meeting running smoothly for everyone. Check out some of the Zoom training materials and/or practice if you can with just a few people so you can get used to muting and unmuting others and look at and customize your settings before you try it with a larger and/or public group.
  3. Know that there are differences between the free account and paid ones. 
    • The most notable is the time available. Free accounts are limited to 40 minutes or less for three or more participants. Paid can go for unlimited amounts of time.
    • Free accounts don't include a telephone access number. Users must join via the Internet.
  4. The issue of security has recently made hosting and running a successful Zoom meeting even more of a challenge. Unfortunately, with everyone rushing to online meetings and virtual events, many of the anonymous characters whose goal in life would appear to be making the Internet a most distasteful place for others have turned their attentions to disrupting Zoom meetings. As of Saturday, April 3, 2020, Zoom has set some security precautions as default settings. 
    • Scheduling a new meeting now automatically includes an added password. This is automatically added to the meeting URL. For someone manually entering a Meeting ID, they will also have to enter the password. You cannot disable this feature. Please note: URLs with passwords should not be shared on public websites. This defeats the security feature of the password. Instead consider sharing the information with Meeting ID and instructions for whom to contact to obtain the password. You can send individual invitations to key participants by email including URL with password.
    • Invited participants will also be placed into a waiting room before they can enter the meeting. This does make it a lot more cumbersome, especially if you are hosting a relatively large gathering, especially with people or user names you can't readily identify. New users may not have customized their settings and may enter the waiting room as simply iPhone. Zoom provides a lot of information about Waiting Room on their website

    Some of the best information and advice I've seen recently comes from the ADL: How to Prevent Zoombombing
  5. As the ADL article recommends, it's useful to have at least two co-hosts. One can be responsible for the content of the meeting while the other monitors chat, waiting room, muting and unmuting participants, turning on and off video, etc. All of these things can influence the quality of the meeting. For example, turning off video can help improve sound quality when there are bandwidth issues. Muting attendees who are not speaking avoids disruptions from dogs barking or other intrusions. Unwanted guests may have to be removed. It's much easier to handle these issues when you're not also trying to lead a discussion or give a presentation.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Zoom Quick Start Guide for Meeting/Program Attendees

Many of us are turning to Zoom for video conferencing to replace meetings and other face to face gatherings during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Some are relatively experienced with logging into and/or hosting video meetings. Others are having to do this and guide others for the first time. For the latter, I've put together this guide as a means of helping to make this new tool a bit easier.

  1. You will receive an invitation.
    Perhaps it comes as an email. (Be sure to check some of your other folders if you're expecting an invitation and don't see it. Gmail, for one, tends to sort these coming out of mail programs as Promotions. You may find meeting/event invitations there as well.)
    Or you may find it in an event notice from a newsletter or Facebook page.
  2. The invitation will probably look something like this:
    Topic: Anytown Virtual Event
    Time: Mar 30, 2020 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 555 555 5555

    As of April 4th, the meeting links will look much longer as they include an encrypted password for extra security. It will look more like this:

    But clicking on it should take you directly into the meeting.

    If someone will be joining the meeting from a computer, tablet or smart phone with Internet access, all s/he needs to do is click on the link above. It will prompt the user to download the necessary app and/or go to the Zoom website where they can join the meeting.

    One tap mobile
    +16695555555,, 5555555555# US (San Jose)
    +13465555555,, 5555555555# US (Houston)

    One tap mobile may not be particularly useful for most users. When we tried it out, it worked fairly easily if one could copy and paste from email into their phone's dialer. Then it provides a quick way to dial in and listen to the audio portion of a meeting but not the video. Might be an option for someone who is fairly comfortable with technology but has limited or no bandwidth where they're located.

    Dial by your location
    +Above phone number (San Jose)
    +Above phone number US (Houston)
    Followed by additional phone numbers for other US cities and/or just US
    Meeting ID: 555 555 5555
    Password: 654321

    This would be the option I would recommend for anyone who has a cell phone, but not a smart phone, or perhaps is not at all comfortable with technology. Here they just select a number. The locations may make a difference if there is a local one, if not any of them should work. The user will then be prompted to enter the meeting ID. So, all it takes is a phone number followed by the pound sign #, then the meeting ID followed by the pound sign #

    Note due to increased demand, free accounts no longer come with phone support. Someone who wants to join a zoom meeting hosted by a free account must do so via the Internet using an app or web browser.
  3. Or you may find an online gathering you'd like to attend via a Facebook event notice or email list. In which case, you may only get the following information
    Time: Wednesday, April 29th, 05:30 pm MDT
    Location: Join Zoom Meeting
    Meeting ID: 123 456 78

    Clicking on the Zoom Meeting link should provide you with access to the meeting. There is no phone access available.
  4. Waiting rooms are also becoming increasingly common as hosts strive to make their meetings more secure. You can make things easier on hosts by downloading Zoom ahead of time and setting up the app for your computer, tablet or smart phone with your name. That way, hosts don't have to try to guess who iPhone might be.
  5. It's good meeting etiquette to mute your microphone except when you're talking. It cuts down on background noise and makes it easier to hear and follow the main speaker. If you're in the Zoom app, you'll find a microphone at the bottom of the screen. Click on it to mute and unmute. If the host has everyone muted but allows participants to unmute to speak, remember to mute again when you're done speaking.
  6. Users who want to get more comfortable using Zoom can view one or more of the tutorials on their website. I would recommend starting with Join a Meeting

  7. There are additional tutorials available in the Zoom Resource Center under Zoom How to Videos

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pandemic Broadband Service Changes

Updated 3/26/2020

Some of the ISPs and wireless providers have made changes to their service offerings largely in response to the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Initiative I've scoured the websites and Facebook pages for Montana ISPs and the major national wireless providers. Most have statements about closing offices and payment options. If I found additional information, I'm including it here along with links. If your provider isn't listed, the only information I found pertained to office closings, contact information, and/or bill payment. I've discovered that many appear to be updating their Facebook pages more often than their web pages. That may be the best place to look for the most current information. I know that most of the small ISPs are coops and are run on very small margins so they probably can't afford the grand gestures of Charter/Spectrum and Verizon, for example. But if you have specific needs during this time I would encourage you to contact them to see what can be worked out.

In addition, there are numerous small cellular providers known as MVNOs. A couple of the better known ones are Consumer Cellular and TracPhone. I didn't look up to see what any of these might be offering at this time. But if you or some of your community members find yourself in a pinch, mobile hotspots are almost impossible to fine. It might be worth looking into a cheap cell phone and low cost no contract data plan from one of these many providers. Just be sure to check which network they use for their data. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T should work in most of the state. Sprint doesn't work in Montana.

Montana ISPs and National Wireless Providers

3 Rivers

Three Rivers has asked schools to provide them with names of students and if their home is set up with a landline they will hook internet up for free until April 30th. 
Individuals cannot contact them directly, it had to have come from a school official. 
Thanks to Aaron LaFromboise for this update.

Access Montana

Access Montana will provide free internet installs to residential and small business customers

Access Montana will offer a $25 credit per month on internet services for new accounts

A $25 monthly credit for internet services will be offered to existing customers that have a member of the household in school or have switched to remotely working for their job. Please call 406-676-3300 and ask how to apply for this credit

Access Montana will refrain from suspending any customers that have been affected by COVID-19

Late fees for nonpayment will not be charged on the accounts also affected by COVID-19

AT&T - March 24, 2020

AT&T Offering Schools 60 days unlimited data for Laptops, Tablets and Hotspots; Also Offers free access to Caribu Video Calling App

With the unprecedented impacts COVID-19 is having on society, keeping millions of students and teachers home for the foreseeable future, we’re stepping up to enable virtual classrooms across the country.  Beginning today, we’re offering schools a way to save on unlimited wireless broadband connectivity for students.  Through May 22nd, qualified schools activating new lines on qualified data-only plans for school-issued tablets, 4G LTE-enabled laptops and hotspot devices will get the wireless data service at no cost for 60 days.

And schools know they need to protect their students while online – so we’re also making  AccessMyLANTM for the qualified lines available at no cost for 60 days. This service allows school administrators to manage the internet sites their students can access to help protect them from unsafe content and also to block malicious sites, malware and hacking attempts.  Please visit the Community section, under Supporting Education, on this site to learn more about these offers.

Additionally, to help keep families connected during this uncertain time, AT&T is also funding 60 days of free access and unlimited usage of Caribu, a video-calling application that allows family members to read, draw, and play games with one another while in distant locations. The Caribu application, which integrates children's books, coloring activities, and games will be available to families across the country and around the world, free of cost, for the next two months.

Caribu is the second recipient to receive a contribution from AT&T’s new $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections fund, announced last week.  AT&T has also contributed $1M to Kahn Academy to help improve and expand online learning resources to meet growing demand from parents, teachers and students, including those who rely on free resources and need Khan Academy the most.

AT&T is also underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to support eLearning Days from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) available to all educators in schools to help them handle school closures and the increase in virtual learning due to COVID-19. Click here to learn more.


Blackfoot joined FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative – March 16, 2020

In agreeing to the Keep Americans Connected pledge, Blackfoot will commit to the following:
  1. We will not terminate service to any customer due to an inability to pay bill
  2. We will waive late fees 
  3. We will open Wi-Fi hot spots to any customer who needs them


Charter to Offer Free Access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi For 60 Days For New K-12 and College Student Households and More

Interbel – March 16, 2020

Due to ongoing closures and the resulting increase in internet demand, an additional 100 Gb of data cap space will be added each members account starting today March 16, 2020. We also want all of our members to stay connected to loved ones and informed about current events, as a result we are suspending all disconnect activity thru the end of April.

Mid-Rivers March 16, 2020

It is our practice to waive late fees, set up payment plans for customers who may need it to prevent disconnection of services, and offer a hand up in hard times.  That hasn’t changed, so contact us if you need help – we want you to remain our customer and keep your critical services.

As Mid-Rivers offers a rather unique plan whereby customers are charged by data usage, they attempt to assuage concerns about increased usage and costs by offering tips and links whereby one can monitor and limit data usage to hold down costs. Editorial comment not from website


Nemont Statement on Working or Education from home – March 17, 2020

If you are a current customer and are now working from home or your children are utilizing distance learning due to COVID-19 please contact our customer service at 800-636-6680 or chat online at and select the chat function to talk about options for your internet speed.

We know you may have additional questions about Nemont operations during this unprecedented situation. We will issue further statements with any new updates as they become available.

Signed onto the Pledge to Keep Americans Connected


Triangle Community Wi-Fi – Free Wi-Fi in Select Locations

We are proud to announce that we are implementing Community Wi-Fi programs in our service area!  

As a value-added service to your broadband, all Triangle Communications broadband members will have free access to Wi-Fi in select locations.


When a Verizon customer is experiencing hardships because of COVID-19, Verizon will waive late fees for 60 days from March 16, 2020 to May 13, 2020, and will not terminate service to a customer who's been impacted by the events involving the Coronavirus. If our customers are experiencing a hardship, they should call our customer service team to discuss their situation and available options. Customer support contact numbers, an online chat feature and support content can be found on the following pages:

Verizon will offer free international calling to countries identified by the Center for Disease Control as level 3 impacted by the coronavirus effective 3/18 through the end of April. This is available to wireless postpaid consumer and small/medium business customers, and landline home phone customers. Unlimited calling will be included for mobile and landline calls, with the exception of Iran, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia provided 300 minutes of free calls per month. Effective 3/19, wireless prepaid customers will also receive a total of 300 additional minutes to call level 3 countries.

Verizon will also waive activation fees on new lines of service and upgrade fees starting March 18. This applies to all purchases and service-only activations made through Verizon digital channels, such as and the My Verizon app.

Through April 30, Verizon will offer unlimited domestic calling to customers on limited-minute plans. Eligible customers will receive a text message to inform them of the offer. No action is necessary; the offer will automatically be added to eligible accounts. [Updated on 03/20/2020]