Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is bringing back his bill to expand rural broadband in Iowa. The initiative called “Connect Every Acre” aims to bring Iowa’s significant rural broadband into the connected economy and follows on other efforts from the governor’s office such as the connected communities project which recognizes local towns for their broadband initiatives.
The bill is a reboot of the bill which failed in the statehouse last year. Branstad is currently running for his sixth non-consecutive term and broadband has been a notable part of his overall agenda while Governor. The bill includes tax credits and other tax incentives for broadband service providers to connect rural communities that are underserved or without access.
As CivSource has reported, there is also federal money available for similar projects. The efforts to get broadband providers to build in rural communities has been an uphill fight as the lower number of subscribers in these areas makes it difficult to justify build out. In recent years, the biggest broadband service providers have opted for an artificial scarcity model by limiting capital expenditure in order to boost profits for shareholders. This issue along with sustained attacks on municipal broadband networks has had a chilling effect on the overall growth of broadband in the US.
The US has much lower median connectivity speeds than a number of other countries worldwide. The US averages 10mbps while a growing majority of countries offer north of 20 mbps.
Branstads bill was defeated by the Republican controlled statehouse last year. At the time, lawmakers said the tax incentives included in the bill were too far-reaching.
A reminder – there is still time to submit public comments on net neutrality at the FCC website.