CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will visit Iowa to promote programs that would help companies provide low-cost internet service. This visit will have a similar message to what Governor Branstad shared Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Branstad asked the legislature to approve a $5 million grant program for companies to provide broadband access to underserved areas. Today, Obama will outline steps to increase access and affordability of high-speed broadband internet.
Without government incentives internet providers say expanding to rural communities is too expensive.
“It can sometimes cost maybe 3, 4, maybe $10,000 per mile to run fiber optic cable out to a rural resident and that’s what piles up in the cost and that’s not even including the cost to maintain that once it’s installed,” Michael Sadler with CenturyLink said.
Obama will speak in Cedar Falls which was Iowa’s first gigabit Internet city, which is considered the gold standard for broadband service. Des Moines is not a gigabit internet city, but CenturyLink officials say Indianola may soon become a gigabit internet city.
Broadband access in Iowa is decent compared to the rest of the US according to Connect Iowa. In 2013 little more than three-quarters of Iowans have used broadband.