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Iowa to use ARPA funds to supplement broadband expansion


While broadband providers will receive received Iowa grants for recently announced expansion projects, the state will use federal American Rescue Plan Act federal funds to meet remaining demand, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Sept. 14.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer will award grants to 39 of 178 applications for a portion of the $97.5 million in state funds through the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program.

“Expanding broadband across our state continues to be a top priority,” Reynolds said in the news release. “It is clear by the shear volume and scope of applications that the need is there. Today’s award announcement will go a long way toward meeting that need, and we won’t stop here.”

Details on the additional dollars available will be released “in the near future,” Reynolds said.

Iowa Communications Alliance CEO Dave Duncan told The Center Square in an emailed statement that 28 of the association’s member companies together received more than $92 million.

The largest grant, $15 million, will support BTC of Breda, Iowa, in its $35.7 million fiber to the home project in Mills, Fremont, Crawford, Calhoun, Sac Carroll, and Pottawattamie Counties.

The second largest grant, $12.2 million, will support Ace Telephone Association (d/b/a AcenTek) of Houston, Minnesota, in its $23.9 million fiber to the home service expansion in the northeast Iowa towns of Harpers Ferry, Ossian, Clermont, and Ft Atkinson.

Six member companies received at least two awards. Alpine Communications and Hawkeye Telephone, which are each in northeast Iowa, each received four awards. West Iowa Telephone received the smallest award: $40,344.

West Iowa Telephone’s award was reduced “due to Census Block(s) with a prior award overlap or overlap with a higher-ranking application,” and the reduction of the award “is commensurate with the removal of overlapping Census Block(s),” the notice of intent to award said.

“ICA and its 115 community-based broadband providers have been leading the advocacy efforts to promote the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative since its inception several years ago,” Duncan said. “We are pleased that the OCIO awards recognized the proven track record of Iowa’s community based broadband providers who utilize ‘future-proof” fiber optic networks. … The proven track record of Iowa’s community based broadband providers who have been offering fiber optic networks for decades continue to show that the best applications come from the companies willing to serve rural Iowans with the very best technology and future proof networks.”

The companies will each provide broadband service speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 100 Mbps upstream via fiber optic networks, Duncan said.

Duncan said that ICA member companies will participate in future opportunities for broadband grants.

This article was originally posted on Iowa to use ARPA funds to supplement broadband expansion

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