CORONAVIRUS

Iowa releases $50 million in CARES Act funding for rural broadband expansion

State seeking proposals from internet service providers

Members of the Empower Rural Iowa executive committee listen to discussion Thursday during a virtual meeting on rural br
Members of the Empower Rural Iowa executive committee listen to discussion Thursday during a virtual meeting on rural broadband. (Screen image)

Iowa will make $50 million in federal CARES Act funding available for broadband internet expansion, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

Internet service providers have until Aug. 5 to apply for funding to expand broadband service to underserved parts of the state.

“Broadband access at home is more important than ever with telehealth, teleworking and telelearning impacting every Iowan,” Reynolds said in a graphic attached to the tweet.

The state will prioritize projects in “targeted service areas,” identified in U.S. Census broadband access data from 2018.

The state will begin awarding the broadband contracts Aug. 21.

The decision comes after unanimous support from the Economic Recovery Advisory Board’s connectivity working group.

The Economic Recovery Advisory Board also identified improved broadband access as a priority in its two meetings.

More than 300,000 Iowans — about one-tenth of the state’s population — do not have access to wired, high-speed internet, according to Connected Nation, which creates public-private broadband partnerships.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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