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FCC awards over $143 Million to Iowa Broadband Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced that it has awarded more than $143 million to 11 broadband providers to bring broadband to rural Iowa.

The funding is part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a $20.4 billion federal initiative to bring broadband service to rural areas with nonexistent or insufficient internet access

Nearly all rural locations eligible for the award will receive broadband at speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download, with nearly 85% of eligible locations receiving Gigabit service according to the FCC.  
“Access to high-speed internet access is an essential part of everyday life. The FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund builds on the efforts we have underway through my empower rural Iowa initiative as well as significant funds we have allocated through the CARES Act,” said Gov. Reynolds in a release.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is just the latest project working to bring broadband to all of Iowa. Earlier this year $50 million dollars in CARES Act funds were made available by Governor Kim Reynolds for broadband grant projects throughout the state. This is in addition to the ongoing Empower Rural Iowa broadband grants that provides matching grants up to 35% for broadband infrastructure and development.  
The CARES Act and Empower Rural Iowa grants are administered by the Office of the Chief Information Officer through authority granted by the Iowa State Legislature. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is administered by the FCC.  
The following Iowa providers will receive funds under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

ProviderAmount of funding
American Heartland$1,821,520.00  
AMG Technology Investment Group$112,637,885.70    
Corn Belt Telephone$42,237.00
Farmers Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company$12,447.00
LICT Corporation$71,984.70
LTD Broadband LLC$23,184,786.30
Miles Communications LLC$316,641.00
NRTC Phase I RDOF Consortium$356,440.10
Windstream Services LLC$5,355,920.50
Winnebago Cooperative Telecom$84,096.10
Wisper-CABO 904 Consortium$8,586.00

Previous coverage

South Slope receives $5.4 million award to expand rural broadband -Oct. 15, 2020

Expanding Broadband Access Across Iowa -Sept. 9, 2020

Iowa internet provider Xtreamair acquired by NextLink -Sept. 8, 2020

FCC awards over $143 Million to Iowa Broadband Providers | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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