DES MOINES, Iowa (Governor’s Office) – Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today signed the Connect Every Acre high-speed broadband bill into law. The bill, House File 655, encourages the expansion of high-speed broadband internet to all corners of the state helping to foster growth for modern agriculture, increase access for rural communities and school districts and connecting small business to the global marketplace.
The bill passed the Iowa Senate 48-2 on June 4, 2015. It passed the Iowa House 82-12 on June 4, 2015.
“As the Battelle 2.0 study found, sound infrastructure is a prerequisite for economic development. Our state already has a low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, but to continue our growth, we must look at ways to encourage connecting every acre of Iowa to high-speed broadband,” said Branstad. “I’m pleased with the strong bipartisan support this measure received in the Iowa Legislature. Together, Iowa lawmakers came together to pass this meaningful legislation to continue building Iowa for the future.”
The Battelle 2.0 study found that 31% of businesses surveyed – 13,000 in all – that want higher broadband speeds cannot get it at their current location. The Battelle 2.0 study concluded, “In broadband development, the uneven development in Iowa is of great concern. For this updated economic development roadmap, the priority is placed on addressing the business needs for broadband speeds and reliability, no matter where a business is located in Iowa, including Iowa’s farmers who increasingly need to access broadband for new innovations involving precision agriculture.”
“As Governor Branstad and I travel across Iowa, we’ve heard from small businesses on Main Street that want to expand, but lack of high-speed internet is preventing growth. We’ve heard from agriculture producers that their farm equipment is not being fully utilized due to a lack of connectivity. We’ve seen Iowa school districts that have students unable to connect to the wealth of resources online,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “The Connect Every Acre law signed by Governor Branstad today will allow Iowa to continue our economic growth and connect all corners of the state to high-speed internet.”
John Carver, Superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek Community School District, previously stated, “Right now today, broadband is a determining factor in instruction. A child’s education in Iowa isn’t limited by where they are physically, it’s limited by broadband access.”
House File 655 does the following to strengthen broadband in Iowa:
– Provides for the coordination and facilitation of broadband access in targeted services throughout the state.
– Establishes a grant program to award grants to communication service providers by installing broadband infrastructure in targeted service areas that prioritize connecting Iowa farms, schools and communities.
– Creates uniform rules and limitations for wireless communications facilities and infrastructure pertaining to cell towers.
– Tasks the office of the Chief Information Officer to lead and coordinate the installation of fiberoptic conduit where it doesn’t currently exist.
The bill signing was held at Van Wall Equipment in Perry, Iowa. The equipment dealer supplies Iowa farmers with highly technical machinery that is optimized for precision farming by connecting to the Internet and through cellular signal connection. Without high-speed connections across the state, productivity is diminished.