In our comprehensive efforts to compile a complete listing of the Internet service providers that cover America, one state kept coming up again and again Iowa. It turns out that, with 350 providers, Iowa has more Internet providers than any other state in the nation. But, besides an abundance of providers, what does the Hawkeye State have that the rest of us dont. Why do they have so many companies vying for their Internet business, when there are huge areas of many states that are woefully underserved? We took a closer look.
Named after the Native American Ioway people, on the surface Iowa looks like pretty average. It is the 26th largest state in terms of land area, and the 30th most populated state. It is geographically located in the middle of the country. One of the safest states in the nation, it has been named the 6th best state in the country according to CNBC. It has a largely manufacturing economy, accounting for over 21% of the Iowas gross state product. While food processing is the largest portion of that, the state is also a major producer of heavy machinery and agricultural chemicals. But none of this explains why Iowa has better accessibility to the Internet than any other state.
The Reasons for Accessibility
While there may be a variety of factors that have contributed to the influx of Internet service providers in Iowa, pinpointing the actual causes is a challenge. We have compiled a variety of likely reasons that have led to Iowa becoming the hotbed of accessibility in the nation. Healthcare, education, and the economy are all important leads that may have been the impetus for the large number of ISPs in the state.
- Healthcare has likely paved the way for increased Internet accessibility. The lower cost of medical services for those in rural areas, has likely increased the availability of ISPs throughout the state. Telemedicine is increasingly the norm and the federal government has plans to encourage it. Incentives from the government are likely to promote an increase in ISPs.
- The fact that the state was ranked #1 for the cost of doing business and is one of the top 10 states in the nation for its economy, has also likely encouraged ISPs to set up shop in Iowa so they are ready to take advantage of an inevitable surge in business.
- Providing educational opportunities for a population that largely stays within its home state can spur an increase in ISPs. Over 72% of those living in Iowa were also born there. That means in order to provide a specialized, educated labor force, educational opportunities online or close to home needed to be available, and in the past 20 years, high speed Internet has been an increasingly major component of post-secondary education.
- Telework has increased globally and Iowa is no exception. The desire for Iowans to remain in their native state, has likely helped to encourage the establishment of broadband Internet services in order to meet the needs of teleworkers.
- Todays farmers are increasingly dependent on Internet access for information critical to the efficient running of their farms. Because food processing is significant to the states economy, it is in the best interest of the state to have ISPs providing service to farmers. Farms have increased opportunity for productivity when there is access to the Internet.
- An increase in E-commerce has also likely propelled the increase in ISPs. The Iowa economy has seen an increase in e-commerce, which has helped to increase efficiencies in production, improved marketing efforts, and helped to diversify customer bases of companies who have chosen broadband Internet. In fact, practically every small business today is using the Internet to promote their offerings and run more efficiently.
The Need Is Not Met
While there are high numbers of ISPs in Iowa, especially compared to many other states in the nation, the reality is that there are still large numbers of people living in the state who do not have broadband access. An alarming over 113,000 school-aged children there are without at-home broadband access. While a part of this may be due to economic factors, it is also likely because there are still geographic discrepancies between rural and urban communities when it comes to broadband access.
Out of those who do not have broadband Internet in Iowa, two-thirds of them have shared that they would be able to more easily shop, deal with government departments, and even get healthcare if they had home high speed Internet access.
There are an astonishing 650,000 Iowans of working age in need of help with computer and Internet-based tasks, such as sending email, creating spreadsheets, using a mobile device to go online, or using word processing software.
In a state where there is a huge effort towards connectivity, its no wonder that there are so many providers of broadband service. Take the time to compare the offerings available to you before making your decision.