Casey Mutual Telephone receives $2.6 million in broadband grants

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DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) announced Tuesday that Casey Mutual Telephone Company is one of 39 recipients of varying amounts of grant funds to go toward enhancing broadband infrastructure.

A total of $97.5 million has been divided among all the recipients as part of the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. The OCIO took 178 applications from broadband providers that asked for almost $300 million in all.

Casey Mutual Telephone will receive $2.648 million for a rural fiber project. The company has installed fiber to Casey customers since 2015, a report in the Atlantic News Telegraph says. They finished up the rural part of that project in late 2019. Areas around Adair were serviced between 2018 and 2020.

Going forward, Casey Mutual plans to enhance infrastructure in Adair, and areas east of Adair, including north to the Guthrie Center and south to the Greenfield and Fontanelle areas, the News Telegraph reported.

State Representative Ray Sorensen (R-Greenfield) said that his involvement with this initiative stopped when the legislation was written to allow these grants to be made available, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer compiled the rules for the grants and oversaw the application and disbursement process for the grants.

Sorensen said the grant funds that Casey Mutual Telephone Company will receive are for projects in areas with three different tiers of existing upload and download speed.

“This is definitely a start. There are some companies that missed out, and there are reasons for that. We’re going to sit down with the OCIO to see why that happened and why were they kicked out,” Sorensen said. “There were some strict parameters surrounding a lot of this. You have to go back with a fine-tooth comb and see where we can make it better, where it went bad and where it went right.”

Sorensen said the rubber will really meet the road when these projects funded by the grants are complete.

“Ultimately right now, we don’t truly know the success of it except for the applications are awarded. The work still has to get done, they still have to use it wisely and in accordance with the rules of the application they applied for,” he said. “Are those homes at the speeds you said they were going to be at? That’s truly going to be the success of it.”

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