AMES, Iowa — Internet connection has been one of the main topics of discussion among school districts.
For some Iowa families, the issue with internet access has less to do with the price tag and more so the area code.
Greg Artz lives no more than a mile outside of the city of Ames and has never had broadband internet connection for the ten years he’s lived there.
“They’ll come out and say, ‘Oh, we don’t provide internet here.’ However they’re registered with the FCC that they are my service provider,” Artz said.
Mediacom said without enough business in the area, building new fiber lines could be too costly.
“We have an infrastructure, and since it’s very expensive it needs to be where there are multiple places to connect customers,” MediaCom Communication Director, Phyllis Peters said.
Now Artz is afraid his son will suffer as many districts are incorporating online learning in their return to learn plans.
“Getting an education, people get left behind if they don’t have access to broadband,” Artz said. “We’re in one of the best states for education, we’re in the best school district for education. How are we going to keep up?”
Gilbert School District, where Artz’s son, John, attends school has sent out surveys to parents to see who needs internet access and expects to start making calls on August 16th to families in need.
Governor Kim Reynolds and the Department of Education recently announced their giving $26 million dollars in funding to schools to help increase connectivity.
Superintendent of Gilbert School District, Lindsay Beecher, said they’ll be using the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to lease hotspots and offer discounts for broadband services.
Artz said they used hotspots in the spring and believe that broadband connection will be more reliable for the school year.
The Deputy Chief Information Officer in the CIO office, Matt Behrens, said they want parents to know the state is working to get that broadband connection for communities with the highest needs.
“This month we’ll be releasing a new map of broadband availability in the state of Iowa, and that map will be publicly available, and will be open for public comments,” Behrens said. “So those who do not have access are going to be encouraged to visit that map when it’s published and help provide.”