Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday that the Office of the Chief Information Officer will provide an additional $200 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to companies expanding broadband access in Iowa.
In September, Reynolds and the state awarded applicants $97.5 million in Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Program state-funded grants. The 178 requests in that round totaled $300 million.
“I continue to hear from Iowans who still lack access to the broadband speeds necessary to start a business, telework, or connect with a healthcare provider,” Reynolds said in a statement.
In the new grant program, communications service providers, including telecommunication companies and local governments, can apply for up to 60% of project costs in eligible areas of the state, the news release said.
Applications must intend to provide last-mile broadband service to unserved and underserved areas with at least 100/100 reliable broadband or “in cases where it is not practicable, because of the excessive cost of the project or geography or topography of the area to be served by the project to provide 100/100 Broadband that reliably meets or exceeds 100/20 Broadband,” but not both, the Notice of Funding Availability said. Upon project completion, wireless projects must have a network backhaul that can provide those speeds. Projects proposing 100/20 broadband must be scalable to 100/100 within three years of completion. The eligible service areas are those that the U.S. Census determined do not have access to speeds of at least 25/3 broadband (Tier 1), which meets the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds requirements of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
“Communications service providers are encouraged to apply for a grant to install broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved locations,” the release said.
In an emailed…