Make sure you have the following dates marked on your calendar as CBAN and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities return to in-person gatherings for the first time since COVID-19.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 @ Stoney Creek Hotel in Johnston, Iowa
IAMU BROADBAND CONFERENCE
October 20-21, 2021 @ Stoney Creek Hotel in Johnston, Iowa
Final details of both events (schedule, costs, etc.) are being finalized and will be released soon. In the meantime, we hope you can reserve those dates and plan to attend!
Citizens of Fort Dodge, Iowa will have access to a multi-gigabit fiber optic network following action by the City Council yesterday.
The City Council authorized four key elements to advance the project:
The next key milestone comes later this month with financial advisor DA Davidson presents the Council with final financing documents.
With a population of 25,206, Fort Dodge would be the second largest city in Iowa to have access to a municipal broadband utility. Cedar Falls Utilities has served the northeast Iowa community of Cedar Falls (population 39.260) since the mid-1990's.
While details are fuzzy, it appears that Indiana-based MetroNet is backing off from plans to serve the entire city of Mankato, Minnesota following an announcement by the incumbent telephone company that it will be upgrading to fiber over the next few years.
As detailed in an article in the Mankato Free Press, MetroNet made a splash earlier this year with their announcement to overbuild Mankato, a city of 39,000 in south-central Minnesota. MetroNet had been working with the City on a franchise agreement, as well as concessions on permitting costs and other logistics. Then Consolidated Communications announced that it was going to replace its copper facilities with fiber, and the announcement seems to have chilled MetroNet's ambitions.
“They’ve made a decision to move on,” Arntz (Mankato City Manager Susan Arntz) said of MetroNet, which as recently as this spring was promising to provide top-speed internet service at low prices to virtually every neighborhood in the city. -- from Mankato Free Press article, 7/11/21
MetroNet has been aggressively announcing new overbuilds across the nation. In addition to several cities in Iowa, the company recently announced plans for a fiber network in Bryan, Texas.
A lot of Iowa broadband providers are counting down the hours until the State of Iowa releases its new maps showing areas eligible for funding under the Iowa Broadband Grant Program. The Iowa OCIO, which administers the program, says the maps will be released on its website sometime on July 1st.
The rules for the next round of broadband grant funding in Iowa (NOFA #006) are already available for review. The new maps will reflect the tiered eligibility that was created by House File 848, passed by the Iowa Legislature this spring and signed by Governor Kim Reynolds. Grant funds will be available for up to 75% of project costs in Tier 1 Targeted Service Areas (TSA's), defined as areas without available internet of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Tier 2 areas are defined as those with speeds of 25-50 Mbps download (no upload requirement), and Tier 3 areas are ones with speeds of 50-80 Mbps.
A total of $97,500,000 is available for awards during this round. 20% of the funds are reserved for areas that are considered "difficult to serve" (areas below 25x3, or Tier 1) and the remaining 80% will be available for Tiers 1-3.
The state's prior TSA map, used in the first 5 rounds of grants, only shows areas that were considered unserved under the 25x3 metric, so the new maps will have more areas available for funding.
One interesting fact pointed out by the office during a webinar on June 17th is that the maps will NOT carve out areas that were awarded RDOF funding but that have not been built. So even if an area received RDOF funding (such as large areas of Iowa won by LTD Broadband and AMG), it will still be eligible under this grant round.
The application window for NOFA #006 will also open on July 1st, and operators interested in participating will only have until 5pm on July 28th to submit. That's 4 weeks to identify areas you're interested in, come up with a project cost estimate, and fill out the OCIO's various exhibits as part of the application.
Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa will be the site of a new rural broadband testing site that is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture.
The project was announced by US Ignite, the NSF-led technology non-profit group that will administer the field laboratory. The lab will create a “blanket” of experimental broadband coverage, organizers said, across nearly 600 square miles of central Iowa, including six school districts.
For more information on the project, check out the article at StateScoop
CBAN would like to welcome our 101st member, the Bedford, Iowa Area Chamber of Commerce! The Bedford Chamber has joined as our 29th Community Member.
The community of Bedford in southwest Iowa has struggled to find solutions to its substandard broadband services for years. In 2008, voters in the Taylor County community of 1,400 unanimously approved a referendum to authorize a municipal telecommunications network. That's right, EVERY person voted yes. But despite that overwhelming support community leaders have been unable to put together a plan for a municipal system.
Bedford has recently been working with a nearby independent telecommunications cooperative to extend some fiber services into town, but most citizens are still served by the legacy telephone and cable TV companies.
We hope Bedford's participation in the CBAN community will help them identify a path forward for better broadband!
CBAN is proud to welcome a new Associate Member, VETRO, to our growing network.
VETRO is a software company delivering internet infrastructure intelligence™ through a unique Broadband Intelligence Platform for ISPs, states and local communities under the flagship product VETRO FiberMap. The product suite provides comprehensive program support through a combination of data visualization and project analytics with an integrated fiber network operations software solution and platform environment that enables “end to end” network project analysis, planning, design and management. “It is a pivotal time for broadband infrastructure, especially given the current investments and funding now available,” says Brian Mefford, VETRO Vice President of Broadband Strategy. “Our Broadband Intelligence Platform is purpose-built to facilitate community broadband project planning and implementation.”
Based in Portland, Maine, the VETRO platform is now in use by 42 states and over twenty countries on five continents. “Reliable high-speed internet connectivity is essential,” states Mefford. “We are excited to help communities and providers accelerate broadband expansion with software that powers data-driven decision making to bridge the digital divide.”
VETRO is proud to be a member of CBAN and invites you to learn more at vetrofibermap.com.
Jamestown, a city of around 31,000 in southwest New York state, is beginning to evaluate options for a municipal broadband network.
The first step city leaders are taking is to gauge interest in the concept through a survey while also working on a feasibility study. The community is currently served by Spectrum and Windstream. The city is considering the use of some of its allotment of funds from the American Rescue Act to build the network.
CLICK HERE to read more at the Post-Journal.
CBAN's next Lunch and Learn will feature a panel discussion with representatives of three state broadband programs, discussing the ways that states are taking the lead in bringing better broadband to unserved areas.
We'll be talking about the similarities and differences between the approaches taken by the states of Colorado, Iowa, and Maine when it comes to implementing state broadband programs.
We'll also be using a different platform for the June Lunch and Learn. Rather than using Zoom we'll be webcasting live to the CBAN YouTube channel and the Broadband Bytes Facebook page! You'll be able to watch the stream live and share questions or observations in the comments section of either platform.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced last week that the Biden administration is allocating $1 Billion for grants to expand broadband access and adoption on tribal lands.
Funds will be made available to eligible tribal entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion programs, workforce development, distance learning, and telehealth.
CLICK HERE to read more at The Verge.
Lunch & Learn
June 16, 2021
State Broadband Grant Programs
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.