Governor Branstad’s proposal that would extend property tax breaks to companies that extend broadband service in rural Iowa may not provide enough of an incentive according to the companies that serve rural Iowa.
Branstad says he’s willing to review the concerns that are being raised. “The incentives ought to be short term, not really long term,” Branstad says. “But we really want to see every Iowan have the opportunity to receive high-speed internet.” Another part of the governor’s plan would allow private companies to lease parts of the state-owned Iowa Communications Network.
Michael Sadler, a Century Link executive, says companies like his have concerns about that as well. “We don’t want to create a situation where those of us that’ve been in the state for a hundred-and-some years, have invested a billion of dollars of self-investment in the state, have employed people for decades somehow get undercut unfairly,” Sadler says.
Branstad says his goal is to open the state’s fiber optic network “to everybody.” “Part of the problem if we say, ‘Well, we’re not going to open it,’ so we’re not going to have high speed internet in parts of the state — I don’t think that’s fair to the people that live there,” Branstad says. Two decades ago Branstad signed the law that established a state-owned fiber optics network to provide “distance learning” opportunities for students in rural areas who could watch live video of teachers in other locations.