Governor Branstad Monday went to a John Deere dealership in Perry to sign a bill to facilitate more broadband in Iowa.
It’s dubbed the Connect Acre Bill, and Branstad says agriculture is just one business that will benefit from more high-speed internet access.
The bill includes property tax breaks for communications companies to build out broadband to underserved areas, but not the five million dollars in grants the governor asked for.
“Obviously we would have preferred to have the appropriation,” Branstad says. “But we intend to move forward aggressively and seek whatever source of grants and assistance we can get to implement this as quickly as possible.”
Branstad says he may be back next year asking for a state appropriation.
His administration’s chief information officer estimates as much as 40 to 50% of the state has insufficient internet access.
“That’s the best guess based on the FCC data and maps that have been provided,” says Robert Von Wolffstadt. “But you have to go into detail. Some people will say Des Moines is covered but there are specific blocks and tracks within Des Moines that aren’t.”
The bill also includes new guidelines to make it easier for cell phone companies to get permission to put up towers. The cell phone provision helped kill the bill last year because of opposition from local governments.