For Some Iowans, No Internet Choice At Any Cost
While the Federal Communications Commission reports that 90 percent of Iowans have access to advanced broadband, others, including Microsoft, argue that measurement of access is grossly overstated, as only about 30 percent of Iowans actually use broadband. While a state utilities board rules on natural gas and electricity rate increases proposed by investor-owned companies and local officials are accountable for a customer’s water and wastewater bill, Iowa broadband exists largely in the private sector. That means competition often is the driving factor when it comes to the price of connectivity. While residents in some of IA’s more urban locations have multiple options of providers and reap the benefits found in a competitive market, more rural residents may have only one option when it comes to high-speed internet.
In addition to the big providers like Mediacom and CenturyLink, as well as emerging companies like ImOn, many of IA’s more rural residents get their internet from a local telecommunications company or municipal broadband utility. Tim Whipple, general counsel with the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, said there are about 25 municipal telecommunications providers in Iowa. Community Broadband Action Network’s Curtis Dean said there are about a dozen communities across the state looking to add a competitive internet service, whether public or private.
The Cost of Things: For Some Iowans, No Internet Choice At Any Cost