Capital Clicks

Broadband grant applicants request nearly $300 million

By: - August 3, 2021 1:47 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs legislation April 28, 2021, in the State Capitol rotunda. The bill creates a state grant program to expand high-speed broadband access. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The state has received nearly $300 million in grant applications for the $100 million the Iowa Legislature passed to expand broadband services.

A total of 178 applicants requested more than $292 million from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. Applications were submitted between July 1 and July 28.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday that Iowa is looking to leverage federal money to expand broadband in Iowa alongside the millions from the state. She did not specify where this funding would be from or when the state would delegate it. 

“Build it and they will come. The nearly 200 applications as well as the size and scope of these projects reflect the demand and need for quality accessible broadband throughout Iowa,” Reynolds said in a news release. “This effort will open new doors for Iowa communities large and small, resulting in one of the most significant broadband build-outs in the entire country.” 

Applicants will know if they received funding in September. The release did not mention any challenges to Iowa’s broadband map that shows the current broadband services in Iowa’s counties and designates the percentage of a company’s costs the grants can cover.

In July, Iowa Communications Alliance CEO Dave Duncan said some of the companies his organization represents saw discrepancies between the map and consumers’ realities. Rulings on these potential inaccuracies are expected some time this month.

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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt

Eleanor Hildebrandt is a third-year student at the University of Iowa where she studies journalism and mass communication and global health studies. She worked as a news reporter covering shared governance and higher education and a digital producer for The Daily Iowan since her freshman year. In the fall, she will return to the paper as a news editor. As a second-year, she hosted and co-produced "On The Record", the DI's news podcast that was named Best Podcast by the Iowa Newspaper Association.

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