Iowa State launches local effort for high-speed internet


AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University hosted a local gathering of government, business, and ISP industry representatives to talk about the ARA Project Monday.

Last week it was announced the $16 million effort would also include $7 million from the National Science Foundation, and $1 million from the USDA. This project will have local towers built at Iowa State, and local communities around Ames, using cell networks, high and low radio frequencies, as well as satellite service to bring high speed to every acre in the test area.

“We’re starting out locally who is a test bed the goal here is to develop processes that can be used nationwide,” said Peter Dorhout, Vice President for Research at ISU.

The meeting included a panel of people with a role to play, including Annette Dunn, Iowa Chief Information officer, who spoke about the difficulty people had during the pandemic working from home, with less than fast internet.

“Focus on your Iowa this is a big deal we saw in the pandemic how difficult it was for some of our communities are farms families to be able to access this ability to connect,” said ISU President, Wendy Wintersteen. “This is going to make a big difference and we’re so pleased that we are engaged in this project.”

Wintersteen credited Dr. Hongwei Zhang who is heading the ARA broadband project for landing the grants and contacts to make this happen.

“The program itself was set up to imagine how we can enable a new type of research, they can bring academia, industry, and community together,” said Zhang. 

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