Senate File 2219, introduced by Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), would direct the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission to issue an RFP for sale or lease of the Iowa Communications Network.
The bill, which has been assigned to the State Government committee in the Iowww.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/22/iowa-lawmakers-launch-investigation-into-iowa-communications-network-following-alleged-theft-cronyis/1055777001/wa Senate, is the second attempt to get the ICN off the state's books in 4 years and comes on the heels of the discovery that previous ICN Director Ric Lumbard had misspent almost $380,000 of state money.
In 2012-13, the state also attempted to sell the ICN. Only one entity-Iowa Network Services (Aureon) submitted bids for the fiber optic network, but those bids were rejected by Governor Terry Brandstad as being well below the value of the system.
The new attempt includes a carry-over stipulation from the last attempt at a sale: no public funds could be used to buy the ICN. That means a consortium of cities, counties, utilities, and other public entities would not be allowed to buy the ICN. There has been interest in such a joint project in the past since the ICN touches every county and many communities in the state. Allowing cities and utilities to access the ICN has always been a highly political topic and remains so in this attempt.
A new twist comes in paragraph 3f of the bill:
"The winning bidder selected pursuant to the request for proposals shall demonstrate a commitment to serving the citizens of this state and facilitating rural broadband service throughout the state at or above twenty-five megabits per second of download speed and three megabits per second of upload speed."
So it would appear that successful bidders will need to be retail internet providers or express a willingness to do so. Would that eliminate some bidders, such as middle mile network providers that maintain mostly wholesale services? Would it give a bidding advantage to companies such as Mediacom and CenturyLink that are already retail providers?
We'll keep track of SF2219 as it makes its way through the process and provide updates here on Broadband Bytes.
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