The Need: Affordable Data Transport
Participating communities that already offer broadband services (Bellevue, Cedar Falls, Independence, Muscatine, Osage, Reinbeck) often have to rely on third-parties for transporting their voice, video, and data from the source back to the community at rates that are often many times higher than rates paid in urban areas. Having access to lower-cost data transport would allow these municipal broadband providers to offer substantially better service to customers at a lower cost.
Participating communities that do not offer broadband (Charles City, Decorah, Maquoketa, New Hampton) have all explored the concept of a municipal broadband utility, but find that becoming a provider is made more difficult by the lack of affordable middle-mile connectivity options.
The transport network would enable multiple network(s) communications, consolidation and pooling of resources, and platforms for software analysis/analytics. This can be applied to advance the communication requirements in triple-play, wireless networks, smart energy, education, government functions and much, much more.
Curtis Dean, IAMU Broadband Services Coordinator, says that the concept of a jointly-owned fiber network has several parallels in the energy sector. "Iowa has several joint action agencies that allow municipal utilities to pool their resources in order to secure affordable electric generation and transmission. This group is studying the concept of doing something similar for data." Dean says the explosive growth of Internet bandwidth by end users is the biggest challenge facing IAMU broadband members, and the transport network, if built, could allow members to have greater control over meeting that growth.
The study is expected to be completed by this summer.