Broadband access increasing in Iowa

A report by Connect Iowa shows broadband access for the state has increased by six-percent in six months beginning in October of last year. Connect Iowa Program Manager, Amy Kuhlers, says 93.7-percent of the state now has access to higher speed internet service of at least 6 megabites-per-second.

“That’s pretty robust broadband for a normal usage, it’s much better than a lot of communities that are still struggling with only having maybe around one-point-five megabites,” Kuhlers says,”so it’s nice to see that increase in that speed here.” She says the increase is part of a progressive upgrade by providers.

(Radio Iowa) – “I think as companies continue to build their access out they may be offering it in different platforms. So, they may have bumped it to fixed-wireless availability to an area maybe that was covered just by D-S-L before. There’s several different reasons why that could be up, but it usually has to do with what the provider is doing to increase that infrastructure,” Kuhlers says.

The broadband access in rural areas still varies depending on the area. “In some particular areas of the state we’ve got very good rural access, and then in others of course, the farther you are away from a community the more likely you are to not be able to tap into some of those wired broadband. Those particular individuals really look at trying to access through satellite coverage,” according to Kuhlers.

The Connect Iowa Program started in 2010 to push to get more people in the state connected to high-speed access. “The more bandwith you have the more opportunities you have as a business….to provide online offerings, to do obviously data transfer, to have your company really be put on the same global platform as other companies — so it really evens that playing field. So you can be out in a rural location and have your clients and customers find you,” Kuhlers says.

Cedar Falls was recently named the first gigabit city, providing the highest of high speed offerings. Kuhlers doesn’t expect a lot of other cities to follow the lead of Cedar Falls right away.

“What I would more likely see — just in the near future anyway — is maybe communities having pockets of maybe gig infrastructure within their communities and maybe not the whole community,” She explains. “Cedar Falls is in an interesting situation because they are a municipal utility and they’ve been moving toward this I think over the last several years, so they’ve had a definite plan in place.”

Kuhlers says Connect Iowa can work with cities to plan for expand their broadband access. Other information from the latest report shows over 88-percent of Iowa households now have access to more than one provider for broadband.

You can find out more about Connect Iowa and see county-by-county maps of broadband access at www.connectiowa.org.