Iowa Utilities Board is sued over $23 million decision on LTD Broadband

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A lawsuit filed by a major provider of broadband services alleges that a recent decision by the Iowa Utilities Board has prevented it from participating in the rollout of a $23 million expansion of broadband service for rural Iowans. LTD Broadband, a Las Vegas-based company with roughly 150 employees, owns and operates more than 2,500 communications towers in Iowa and six other states, and is suing the Iowa Utilities Board over the alleged delays. In 2019, the board designated the company as an “eligible telecommunications carrier,” or ETC, that could receive federal funds to support the development of rural and high-cost telecommunications services. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission implemented the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, designed to improve rural broadband availability throughout the nation. The FCC later announced that LTD was the winning bidder for more than $23 million in federal funding to help bring new broadband service to a substantial portion of Iowa. As part of the bidding process, the FCC had specified that the funding could not be provided until LTD received state approval for the expansion of LTD’s existing ETC designation. On May 7 of 2021, LTD filed an application to expand its ETC designation. In November, the board issued a ruling denying the expansion request, citing the company’s alleged failure to comply with the “minimal” regulations Iowa had already imposed upon it. LTD is now asking for judicial review and reversal of the board’s decision.

Iowa Utilities Board sued over $23 million decision on broadband provider