Montana has notoriously slow internet, but its capital city has some speedy options. Do you know where to get gigabit internet in Helena? CNET can help.
Montana is known for its wide-open spaces, big-sky country and Wild-West mentality. Fast internet? Not so much. It might be a good thing that so many of Montana's amenities are found outdoors -- because it's harder to stay inside and stream here than in most places.
Despite Montana's speed challenges, its capital city, Helena, gives you some internet options with a little pep. You can choose between satellite, 5G, cable and fiber internet. Recently, telecommunications company TDS announced that it's expanding its fiber coverage to Helena, projected to cover about 27,000 customers.
Shopping for the right internet in Helena should focus on how to get the speed you need, since Ookla data reveals that Montana ranks in 49th place in internet speed across all US states and Washington, DC (with only Wyoming and Alaska trailing). That said, price and coverage are also important factors. Some internet service providers in Helena cover 60% or more of the area. Your choices include Spectrum, T-Mobile and Viasat.
We've compared speed, availability and other important factors to identify some of Helena's best internet service providers.
Availability: Ookla data has identified Spectrum as the fastest internet provider in Montana. While the median download speed in Montana is just 103 megabits per second, Spectrum's median speed in Montana is just over 210Mbps. That being said, speeds in Helena may vary. Spectrum is widely available in the city.
Plans and pricing: The most affordable plan in Helena starts at $50 per month, with download speeds up to 300Mbps. For $90 per month, customers can enjoy speeds up to 1Gbps.
Fees and service details: No caps, contracts or equipment fees are required. Your modem is included, but Wi-Fi is an additional $5 monthly.
Availability: If you're already a T-Mobile customer, leveraging the company's 5G service may be the right choice. T-Mobile home internet has coverage across central Helena and south across Montana City and Clancy. There's also some coverage to the north.
Plans and pricing: Internet costs $50 per month with autopay. If you have certain cell phone plans with T-Mobile, the monthly price drops to $30.
Fees and service details: There's a $35 activation fee, but beyond that, there are no additional monthly fees and no contract is required.
Availability: Some rural customers can't connect to cable or fiber lines. Satellite internet can help fill that gap, and Viasat is the more affordable satellite option in Helena. Viasat has coverage in Libby, Helena Valley Northwest, Dillon, Miles City and other surrounding areas.
Plans and pricing: Plans start at $70 per month after an introductory three-month promotional price, and speeds can reach up to 50Mbps.
Fees and service details: The equipment costs are on par with HughesNet, at $15 per month. Contracts are 24 months.
|Provider||Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly equipment costs||Data cap||Contract||CNET review score|
|CenturyLink||DSL/fiber||$50-$65||60-940Mbps||$15; Included in 1GB plan||None||None||6.7|
|Montana Internet||Fiber/fixed Wireless||$65-$89||8-25Mbps||$8 router||None||None||N/A|
|Spectrum||Cable||$50-$90||300Mbps-1Gbps||Free modem; $5 router||None||None||7.2|
|Starlink||Satellite||$120||20-100Mbps||One-time payment of $599||None||None||N/A|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50||33-182Mbps||None||None||None||7.4|
Helena offers other ISPs besides our top picks. If you're looking to compare and contrast even more options, you may want to consider some of the following alternatives in Helena.
Helena internet providers offer limited coverage outside the city center, given the rural nature of Montana. But the city is growing its fiber availability, and cable options are available in the more urban parts of the city.
Most available internet technology
Most internet plans in Helena start at $50-$65 per month. You may need to pay close to $100 monthly if you require fast download speeds, however.
To get the most bang for your buck, it's worth checking out fiber coverage at your address. If it isn't available now, the TDS expansion may soon bring fiber to your neighborhood in Helena. Additionally, the Affordable Connectivity Program could enable an internet subsidy that brings down your monthly costs.
|Provider||Starting price||Max download speed||Monthly equipment fee||Contract|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||$50 ($30 with eligible mobile plans)||182Mbps||None||None|
|Spectrum Internet||$50||300Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None|
Montana doesn't have particularly fast internet speeds as a whole, but there are still speeds in Helena that make it possible to browse and work at home. Even a few internet service providers in Helena reach gig speeds.
Spectrum offers an Internet Gig plan with up to 940Mbps, while other providers in the area top off at much slower speeds. Still, you can find enough speed in Helena to complete most online tasks. Spectrum's top plan -- and CenturyLink's fastest fiber option -- may be the only ones that work for you if you're a gamer.
|Provider||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Starting price||Data cap||Contract|
|CenturyLink Fiber Internet||940Mbps||880Mbps||$65||None||None|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||940Mbps||35Mbps||$90||None||None|
The best internet providers in Helena when it comes to speed are Spectrum and CenturyLink, while the satellite providers may offer more consistent coverage for rural customers. Keep your eye on the fiber expansion coming to Helena, as this will surely provide residents with speedier downloads than most current plans offer.
Yes. CenturyLink and Montana Internet currently have fiber. TDS, a major telecommunications company, announced in 2023 an expansion to Helena that'll bring fiber internet to more than 27,000 new customers.
T-Mobile Home Internet, Spectrum and CenturyLink all have internet plans starting at $50 per month in Helena.
Spectrum has an internet plan in Helena with speeds up to 940Mbps, available at all Spectrum locations. CenturyLink has a fiber gig plan to equal that one, but it isn't as widely available in the area, only at select addresses in Helena.
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