Despite state laws requiring referenda and public reporting, Iowa is home to successful municipal networks, which have been undeterred by these potential stumbling blocks. A bill in the Iowa Senate, however, may present a new barrier discouraging new networks in places where Iowans need it the most. In communities where Internet access companies aren't offering the caliber of services residents and businesses need, the proposal would restrict the possibility of competition.
Earlier this month, State Senator Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, introduced Senate Study Bill 3009, which is supported by Mediacom, a national cable company that offers connectivity to nearly two-thirds of Iowans. The bill threatens cities’ access to financing for municipal broadband networks and challenges their ability to set competitive prices. This would impact cities with long established networks, like Cedar Falls and Coon Rapids, as well as communities that have recently decided to move forward with broadband plans, like Fort Dodge, Vinton, and Waterloo.
Tim Whipple, General Counsel for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, which opposes SSB 3009, wrote in an email:
While community-owned broadband may not work for all communities, cities should have the opportunity to begin providing these services without having undue restrictions placed on them . . . especially in areas where incumbent providers aren’t properly investing.
Bill Brings New Barriers
Senator Dawson chairs the state Commerce Committee and introduced SSB 3009 as a proposed committee bill.
As currently written, the bill would make a number of...Read more