Iowa is looking at $5 million for broadband

Sometimes it’s nice to see our neighboring states looking at Minnesota as a model. This seems to be the case in Iowa as the New Observer reports on their emerging broadband plans…

The committee, which is scheduled to meet in early February to finalize its draft, doesn’t have a budget recommendation, said Carver.

That concerns committee member Dave Duncan, also CEO of Iowa Communications Alliance. He noted neighboring states like Nebraska and Minnesota have more defined broadband budgets and time tables. In Nebraska, state officials released a plan last year designed to bring faster broadband to more areas by 2020; a Minnesota law signed last year sets aside $20 million for broadband expansion.

“I’m hopeful that our broadband committee will come together with a recommendation of a goal something like what some of those other states are doing,” he said.

According to the article, 80 percent of the state has broadband, which aligns with Minnesota number except that they define broadband differently, not as 10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up as it is currently defined in MN…

About 80 percent of Iowa households — roughly 985,000 — have high-speed Internet with download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 1.5 megabits per second, according to Connect Iowa, an organization with federal support that is working with communities across the state to expand service.

Those speeds roughly translate to the ability of a household to do several things online before speeds begin to slow.

I might challenge that translation – at 1.5 Mbps there isn’t much uploading or interaction happening. It really makes the point that while a discussion on “what is broadband?” may seem dry, nerdy and boring, it’s really very important. That which gets measured, gets done! (Or more importantly, that which gets measured may get funded!)

They are talking about how much money to propose. In Minnesota, the numbers on the legislative table sit at $30 million and $200 million….

Branstad has set aside $5 million for broadband expansion in his budget proposal. He is weighing different factors before recommending more money for future budgets, according to his spokesman.

Duncan said any state funds will be helpful to service providers as they seek to offset the high costs of bringing broadband to rural areas of Iowa. The industry currently relies on federal subsidy dollars and grants. At least $130 million in federal subsidies was given in 2013 to service providers in Iowa through a fund that offers broadband and phone services support, according to data from the FCC.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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