Sum of Iowa, federal spending for faster internet to reach $400 million

Rural Iowans struggling to get high-speed internet could see significant improvements under new state and federal plans to invest at least $400 million to improve access and affordability.

Iowa and other states across the nation will receive a minimum of $100 million apiece to improve broadband access through President Joe Biden’s recently approved $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves said Friday.

Altogether, the bill provides $65 billion for improved broadband access.

The federal investment comes on the heels of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ announcement last month that the state will use $200 million provided through the federal American Rescue Plan to bolster broadband access. That’s on top of nearly $100 million in state funding announced in September.

MORE: Struggling for access, rural Iowa hopes high-speed internet can reverse decline

Governor Kim Reynolds signs legislation setting up a system of grants for broadband internet providers in an attempt to boost access in rural parts of the state, on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, inside the State Capitol rotunda, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Many parts of rural Iowa, home to 1.3 million people, rely on fixed wireless internet, a service broadcast from a fixed location such as a tower. The service gets slower as more people use it and it can be interrupted by hills, trees and other line-of-sight obstructions, said Dave Duncan, CEO at Iowa Communications Alliance, a group of nearly 120 community-based telecommunications providers of broadband, telephone and digital TV.

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