A national study on the availability of broadband service finds Iowa is making significant strides to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas, but many residents still aren’t logging on. Lori Grange, deputy director of the Pew Center on the States, says having ready access to the information superhighway is seen as a key element in the development of a community and a state.

Grange says, “Everybody thinks that broadband is accessing email and YouTube and our report really found that states and citizens are looking at broadband as being about jobs, the economy and our quality of life.” She says most Iowans have access to broadband but there are still large disparities among states and cities as well as income levels and urban versus rural areas.

Grange says, “State leaders are really looking to broadband as a tool for promoting economic growth and delivering critical services more efficiently and effectively, services such as education, health care and public safety, especially to residents in hard-to-reach areas who don’t have access to high-speed, high-quality broadband.”

Driven by tight budgets that force leaders to do more with less, Grange says many states are looking to broadband as a potential vehicle for promoting economic growth. Despite strides, she says Iowa is among the states that’s going to have to work very hard to catch up with many others.

“Very recently, Iowa just launched its first map showing broadband availability in the state,” Grange says. “We were interested to see that although 95% of citizens in Iowa can access broadband service, only 66% of Iowans actually report using broadband at home.”

The report is called, “Bringing American Up to Speed: States’ Role in Expanding Broadband.” It examines the challenging steps states must take to improve broadband access, including: cost, mapping current access, physical infrastructure and capacity. See the full report at www.pewcenteronthestates.org