Iowa Senate passes broadband bill

The Iowa Senate unanimously passed the House File 848 Tuesday night, a bill that would set up a system of grants for broadband providers in an attempt to boost internet access in rural parts of the state.

The Senate vote follows the bill’s unanimous passage in the House last week and sends the bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk for her expected signature.

The bill establishes matching grants for companies that develop broadband infrastructure in areas that don’t have access to high-speed internet. Most of the grants would go toward providing internet service with download and upload speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.

Some grants could go to companies that establish lower upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second if they’re in the most difficult to reach areas. At least 20 percent of the amount of the grants awarded must be allocated to projects in difficult-to-serve areas where no service is available at those speeds.

In January, Reynolds announced a rural broadband initiative as one of her top priorities over the next four years. She called on lawmakers to allocate $450 million in state investment over the next three fiscal years.

Lawmakers have yet to agree on how much funding to set aside for the program and plan to provide the funding for the grants in a separate bill.

Previous coverage

Iowa allocates $15 million to broadband providers throughout the state -March 24, 2021

Expanding Broadband Access Across Iowa -Sept. 9, 2020