Rural residents say there is a need for better broadband across the state

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:26 PM CST
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OXFORD, Iowa (KCRG) - In Governor Kim Reynolds Condition of the State Address Tuesday, she pledged $450 million to be spent on expanding high-speed internet.

Reynolds said the pandemic proved how hard it was for rural communities to get access to quality internet services.

“The past year we have learned that we need better internet for virtual learning, and for those of us who have had to work from home,” said Carole Hebl of rural Oxford.

Hebl said she started to notice the struggle when her kids were virtually learning, and she worked from home. Being an educator at Kirkwood Community College, she had many Zoom meetings. She said she had a hard time connecting to those virtual meetings. She even bought a hotspot to try and help.

“I still had issues getting kicked off now and then,” she said. “That was frustrating.”

South Slope in North Liberty was already working to expand broadband access into areas like Hebl’s. However, CEO Chuck Deisbeck said building the infrastructure was expensive. He said this plan was a state incentive to help companies like his meet her call for better service.

“We’ve got to make sure that these dollars are used wisely,” Deisbeck said. “They’re taxpayer dollars. We need to future proof the legislation to make sure that we spend the funding wisely.”

The pledge, however, was just in the beginning stages. The Republican majority Legislature would still need to pass a bill before anything could move forward.

If we committed this kind of money, we need to do something for the future,” said Deisbeck. “This opportunity needs to be future proof.”

Future proof so people like Hebl, and so many others, could get quality broadband. Especially if they all had to work or learn from home again.

“It has been a little tough,” said Hebl. “I have two kids at home that were learning virtually. The school opened back up now, but if we were to ever get into a situation like this again, it would be nice to know we had good internet.”

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