Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s willing to sell of parts of the Iowa Communications Network, The I-C-N is the state-owned fiber optic system that links schools, the National Guard and other government agencies to high-speed lines for audio and video transmission. Vilsack says he proposed the sale of the I-C-N’s “unused capacity” which he says makes all the sense in the world. Vilsack says he worked with industry officials and key legislators to come up with the plan. Vilsack says his idea responds to some of the competitive concerns the industry has had about a state-owned telephone company since the I-C-N’s creation 15 years ago. But House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City who wants to sell the I-C-N, says it’s not that simple. By selling only portions of the network and retaining state ownership of links to schools and other government agencies, Rants believes the state would get a price that’s far less than what those sections are worth. Rants says Vilsack’s approach also takes options off the table. For example, Rants says a potential buyer may ask to buy all the cable, and offer to provide the same services schools are getting now, but do it differently, and perhaps do it cheaper. Rants says the sale of the Iowa Communications Network has become a partisan squabble and that means prospects for a sale are dimming.
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