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Iowa House passes bill to make broadband more available in the state

Posted at 6:34 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 19:34:57-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - The Iowa House of Representatives unanimously approved to make broadband more available in under-served areas.

State Rep. Brent Siegrist understands the need for broadband access. The internet is providing an opportunity for his daughter, who is about to graduate from college.

"She is going to go to work for a company in Boston, totally remote. She will be living in Dubuque, Iowa, and doing her job out of her residence," Siegrist said.

Siegrist says those kinds of opportunities will be open across the state once broadband access is where it needs to be.

"The broadband deserts, as they call them - there are several in Southwest Iowa and Northeast Iowa where it's more rural and a lot less population," Siegrist said.

The policy calls for having a minimum download and upload speed of 100 megabits per second.

"The bill recognizes that there are some rural areas where it's almost financially unfeasible to get that level of connectivity everywhere. We have three different tiers where you can get government assistance," Siegrist said.

Democrat Charlie McConkey sees firsthand how a lack of connectivity hurts his constituents.

"You need the internet to get online to line up your vaccine. I've been helping people with that for months now. A lot of older people don't have internet, can't afford it, or don't understand it," McConkey said.

McConkey is simply grateful that access to strong internet is gaining bipartisan support.

"It's nice to have an issue like that. This bill, we passed some broadband, a piece here, a piece there. We're just nipping around the edges. I always said we should have a grant program that will address the areas where there's no service at all and this one does that," McConkey said.

Siegrist tells 3 News Now the goal is to allocate $100 million for the first year of a three-year roll out across the state. The bill goes next to the Senate.