(May 10, 2018) – Iowa’s Governor, Kim Reynolds, announced in her Condition of the State address earlier this year, an initiative to promote, invest and connect rural Iowa by expanding broadband capabilities in every corner of the state.
That was a welcome statement considering that Iowa was recently announced as the best state in the nation, partially due to bringing ultra-fast intranet access to its citizens, based on the 2018 U.S. News and World Report annual best state ranking.
One of the challenges of becoming the best is staying the best. There is still a lot of work ahead in Iowa, and nationally, to minimize the digital divide that exists between urban and rural areas.
It will take the collaboration of public and private partners to make the impossible possible in the more challenging areas.
Iowa, like other states, needs to prioritize broadband as a top tiered funding necessity and package that funding along with federal programs that are in/will be in place to help expand broadband.
From the private side, Iowa’s providers will need to continue building upon their many success:
• Iowa Communications Alliance, a strong, progressive telecommunications trade organization representing 135 carriers (many of which provide advanced broadband technology and services) that provide broadband service to rural Iowans
• Mediacom provides Gig service to all of its Iowa
communities, urban and rural; and Clear Lake, Dumont, OmniTel, Premier Communications and Webster Calhoun Coop Telephone Association are “Certified Gig Capable-Providers” by NTCA
• NTCA has recognized Citizen’s Mutual Telephone Cooperative and South Slope as “Smart Rural Community Showcase”
• New and upcoming broadband providers such as Acre Broadband, Breeze Internet and ImOn, continued focus on bringing broadband services to rural and sparsely populated areas, businesses and hard to access areas
• CenturyLink, Consolidated, Frontier and Windstream using Connect America Fund dollars to expand broadband to unserved/underserved markets
• Electric Coops expanding their service offerings to include broadband like Allamakee-Clayton Electric Coop and Maquoketa Valley Rural Electric Coop
• Iowa Communications Network (ICN), is an active state broadband carrier for schools, hospitals, clinics, government, National Guard and libraries
• Active broadband providers such as Unite Private Networks, Aureon, LISCO and Premier Communications working diligently to provide communities and businesses with opportunities to expand broadband
• Utility and municipalities bringing broadband to its customers including Cedar Falls Utilities and Muscatine Power and Water
• HughesNet, Sprint, US Cellular, Verizon and T-Mobile are making technology advancements in the satellite and cellular industry making rural broadband expansion more appealing
Still, with all of that happening in Iowa, there is more work to be done to close the digital divide.
As Iowa closes in on 100% broadband coverage, this is the time when all parties must ban together to make the impossible possible. Check the ego at the door kind of time and work together to solve the last mile dilemma of providing quality broadband service to all.
To stay the best, takes continual improvement; fixing what’s wrong and tweaking areas to ensure continued improvement. Iowa has done a lot of good things to garner a number one spot from US News and World Report, but there is quite a bit more to do to maintain that spot; and, more importantly, provide broadband access for all.
About the Author: David Daack is a Community Technology Advisor for Connected Nation. David coordinates and manages the activities of various community planning teams, including training local champions, to bring together community leaders, educators, healthcare, and other sectors to participate in local technology planning.
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