Rural Iowa prepares for improved broadband access

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ADAIR, Iowa — High-speed broadband is now closer to becoming reality for rural Iowans. Governor Reynolds recently announced an investment of $1.3 million to bring the infrastructure into place. Now, they’re just finalizing the details with the providers.

“We need the speed to keep up with the rest of the country. It’s that demand right now for rural Iowa,” said Martin Fisher, an attorney for Fisher, Fisher & Groetken in Adair.

Fisher hasn’t used these law books much in the last five years since most files have moved online. 

His law firm in Adair is eager for Governor Reynolds’ major broadband investment to kick in. 

“The longer you’re sitting online, waiting for downloads, waiting for research to occur, that gets you into problems with trying to get work accomplished,” said Fisher.

The city’s attorney Clint Fichter has worked to get Adair better connected since 2015. He says broadband is no longer a luxury.

“For those businesses to be viable, for those communities to be viable, from a lot of different standpoints–education for our kids or the use of it for consumers or businesses, it’s a critical service for everybody,” said Fichter.

Federal lawmakers agree that this $1.3 million investment will pay off.

“Making sure that we are staying connected is top line,” said Sen. Joni Ernst. “To see the state come forward with this kind of grant to broadband access to the rural access is very important.”

For Fisher, a better connection and speed means improved video conferencing, which they’ve been using for the last five years.

“It works perfect once we have the capability in the electronics to do that. The internet is the key to that.”

One company that’s already seen the benefits of broadband is Agri Drain right here in rural Adair. They say it’s allowed them to stay competitive in a increasingly competitive business world.

“It just makes a huge difference for your company.” says Lisa Newby with Agri Drain. “You’re going to be able to upload your files faster, not going to have to worry about downtime.”

The changes have allowed them to better monitor the drainage systems that are in place all over the country. Plus, it’s streamlined their workflow. 

“There were some outages, and then also when we would upload our files, we have large catalog files that we upload and sometimes those would take longer than needed, and now when we upload we don’t have to wait overnight, they just go,” said Newby.

As for Fisher, he can’t wait to see that happen for his own business.

“Sooner the better is always great around here,” said Fisher.

At the federal level, Sen. Joni Ernst is working on a bill with Sen. Tammy Baldwin to lift some of the restrictions on price points for broadband access.

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