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Broadband effort launched to connect every Iowan

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Article by Quad-City Times

State officials are embarking on a public-private effort to significantly increase the access, adoption and use of broadband technology for all Iowans.

Gov. Terry Branstad announced a “Connect Every Iowa” initiative at his weekly news conference today, likening the effort to expanding electricity to rural areas in the previous century and calling it critical to the state’s economic development and job creation future.

“We want to make Iowa the most connected state in the Midwest,” Branstad said.

Currently, Iowa ranks 11th out of 12 Midwestern states on the TechNet State Broadband Index, behind neighboring states such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois. The index is compiled from three measures: the household adoption rate of broadband, network speeds of available broadband infrastructure, and the amount of jobs in information and communication technology industries that benefit from broadband technology.

Branstad asked his STEM Committee — a panel co-led by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds — to develop legislative recommendations and a strategic plan for accomplishing the broadband connectivity goal. He said one possible outcome would be to consider ways to re-purpose the Iowa Communications Network to help meet the needs of rural areas.

The STEM Advisory Council’s Broadband Committee goal is to develop legislative recommendations to encourage broadband build-out throughout Iowa, particularly in unserved or under-served areas. The committee’s first meeting will be Sept. 10 in Des Moines.

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