Editorial: fiberoptcs

Iowa lawmakers could make Internet accessibility commonplace across the entire state. While other political issues may be more impactful, wider broadband access would arguably benefit the most Iowans.

President Barack Obama recently visited Iowa to announce his views on accessible, affordable quality broadband Internet access for the entire country. He spoke in Cedar Falls, a city that has offered municipal broadband internet access to its citizens for the past 20 years.

This municipal Internet, like in Cedar Falls, is something agencies like the Federal Communications Commission will encourage, Obama said in his speech, while putting pressure on states to get rid of laws that prohibit competition with Internet providers. This, Obama hopes, will make Internet faster, more affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Obama is not alone in promoting public and affordable internet for citizens. In fact, Internet accessibility seems to be a bipartisan issue.

During Gov. Branstad’s condition of the State address, a plan to increase broadband access to rural portions of the state was introduced. Branstad asked for the State Legislature to approve a $5 million grant to help meet the financial demands of extending Internet services. A similar measure was struck down by the State House in 2013.

According to the governor’s website, the “Connect Every Acre” plan, as it is called, will “award grants to communication service providers” that invest in broadband Internet access on farms, schools and communities.

While the plans are not exactly the same, Internet access for our entire state is an advancement that will only improve and expand opportunities for Iowans. Affordable and accessible quality Internet access is an idea that both parties can get behind and actually initiate a fair amount of progress through a minimal act of bipartisanship and — relative to other projects — low cost of investment.

There are a lot of plans and objectives both parties are trying to get done. But getting behind this plan is a simple and easy objective to achieve from both parties. Republicans and Democrats can take the momentum from that partisanship and get down to maybe the more important issues, like healthcare and minimum wage.

Bringing Internet access to all Iowans or Americans will only increase the number of educational and economic opportunities in our state. Cedar Falls is already a powerhouse in Iowan and national E-commerce, so expanding similar capabilities across the state will strengthen Iowa’s standing on the national economic stage.

Agriculture, though often forgotten when technology is the conversation topic, stands to see enormous gains in efficiency, which would undoubtedly result in increased productivity. Even the ever-expanding Des Moines business sector stands to gain from these improvements as online communication with rural offices or between insurance agents on the scene of claim and the adjusters working in Des Moines offices.

All Iowans stand to gain from these politically and economically attainable changes in Internet accessibility.

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(2) comments

Steve Gregg

The last thing we need is for the government to hijack the Internet in the guise of helping us. The Internet has been wildly successful largely because of the lack of government interference.

Rather than the government subsidize cable to every farm in Iowa at a loss, it would be better for the market to come up with a technical solution that pays its own way. That probably means a beefed up cell phone service or improved satellite communication.

Benjamin Bauer

I take it you don't live in Cedar Falls or know what they had until Obama came there and suggested it as a model for other locations and then it was stupid.

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