Wireless in works for Iowa

The next several years will see a major expansion in broadband wireless

services in Iowa, thanks to a project now in its infancy.

State officials will issue a request for information (RFI) in September,

asking the wireless industry and other interested parties what they think

is needed to build a wireless infrastructure in Iowa capable of supporting

wireless broadband services. Depending on the responses, Iowa officials

hope to issue a request for proposals (RFP) in the first quarter of 2002.

"Iowa currently only has around 22 percent of the state by area covered

by digital wireless services, and the rest is analog cellular," said Tom

Shepherd, director of Iowa's Office of IT Innovation. "With advanced [digital]

services coming down the pike in the next few years, we have to do something."

Iowa has the largest rural community of the 50 states, Shepherd said,

and that's a population whose communications needs are ideally suited to

wireless service. However, he said, most of those rural areas are not viable

for commercially provided high-speed broadband.

"So the RFI will also address the issues of where government has to

be involved in this," Shepherd said. "I think everyone realizes that the

government will have to have a position in this — that the private sector

can't do it all itself."

Shepherd noted that government officials are increasingly involved in

providing interactive services to the public via the Internet, and wireless

technology will be a major medium for delivering those services.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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