Opinion

The digital divide

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Since the community spread of COVID-19 officially hit Iowa in mid-March, we saw Iowans respond.Many Iowans started or expanded their reliance on internet connectivity for learning, working and socializing.This magnified, nearly overnight, the importance of a quality internet connection.

We made it a priority to increase broadband access and improve internet connections in unserved and underserved areas across Iowa. We recognized that internet access was an issue in Iowa prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The digital divide has become even more prominent now as work, education, medicine, and other services, who already utilized the internet, have been more and more dependent on an internet connection during the coronavirus pandemic.

We passed a number of bills earlier this legislative session that focused on providing internet access to underserved areas. We recognized the best way to do this was to be technology agnostic in our solutions, minimize red tape and administrative costs, and maximize the impact of dollars spent. Work remains to get HF 2575, HF 2442, and HF 2520 to Governor Reynolds, but the recent coronavirus experience has highlighted the importance of these bills.

Like infrastructure such as water, electricity, and gas our lives have become dependent on internet access.

We need continued efforts at both the state and federal level to ensure every Iowan has access to reliable internet.