Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Iowa Communications Network (ICN)?

The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) is the country's premier distance learning and state government broadband carrier network, committed to providing Iowa strong broadband solutions for the education, government, and healthcare sectors of Iowa. The ICN makes it possible for Iowans, physically separated by location, to interact in an efficient, creative, and cost-effective manner. ICN provides high-speed flexible broadband Internet, data, video conferencing, and voice (phone) services to authorized users, under Code of Iowa, which includes: K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals and clinics, state and federal government, National Guard armories, and libraries.


 

Who can use the ICN?

The ICN is statutorily limited, by the Code of Iowa, Chapter 8D, in who is permitted to utilize the Network. ICN's authorized users include: K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, state and federal government, National Guard armories, and libraries.


What services does ICN provide?

The ICN provides high-speed flexible broadband Internet, data, video conferencing, and voice (phone) services to authorized users. 


 

Who do I contact if I have service problems?

ICN has a 24/7 Network Operations Center. For service problems contact the ICN using our Technical Support form, by email at icnservicedesk@iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 725-4727 or toll-free (877) 426-4692.


Is ICN governed by the Governor?

The ICN is an independent executive branch agency within the State of Iowa government. ICN is governed by a commission named the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission (ITTC). The Commission was statutorily created in the early 1990's. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and tasked with overseeing the operations of the Network. The executive director is appointed by the Commission and confirmed by the Senate.


 

Are ICN's Commissioners appointed by the Governor?

Yes, ITTC Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and serve six-year staggered terms. Appointed Commissioners are also subject to approval by the Iowa Senate. The Commission provides for the centralized, coordinated use and control of the Network.


Who is the ICN executive director?

In September 2014, the members of the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission (ITTC) announced the appointment of Ric Lumbard to serve as ICN’s Executive Director, effective immediately.  The official appointment was made during their September 4th meeting.  The Commission feels strongly that Ric’s background, experience, and vision will position the ICN for continued success in the years to come.  About the Executive Director


 

When was the ICN created?

In mid-1989, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that called for the construction of a shared statewide telecommunications network. The bill was signed into law by Governor Branstad and within a year, construction began to install one fiber-optic endpoint in every Iowa county. By 1994, 104 fiber endpoints were in place and a state agency (the ICN) was created to manage the vast network.


Does ICN receive General Fund appropriations?

The ICN has not received a General Fund appropriation for maintaining the Network's infrastructure since Fiscal Year 2004.

 

 

Does ICN receive any other appropriations?

Yes over the years, the ICN has received equipment appropriations from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The funding has assisted in ensuring redundancy for the Capitol Complex (continuation of government in the event of a natural disaster) and other equipment enhancements, such as the replacement of generators at authorized user's sites.


Is the ICN debt for constructing the Network paid off?

Yes, the ICN paid the State of Iowa back in full for the cost of constructing the Network in March 2005. Unlike most state departments and agencies, the ICN operates with fee-based revenues rather than General Fund appropriations.


 

How many miles of fiber-optics make up the state-wide Network?

The Network makes up an estimated 8,661 miles of fiber cable - 3,400 owned by the State of Iowa and 5,261 leased.


What does Part 1, Part II, and Part III mean?

Part I: Was the initial build out of the Network. This build out provided the three Iowa regents universities, 15 community colleges, Iowa Public Television, and the State Capitol Complex with fiber-optic connections. This part of the Network is owned by the State of Iowa.

Part II: The fiber build-out created a Network point of presence in the remaining 84 Iowa counties. These sections of the Network are also owned by the State of Iowa.

Part III: Involved connecting other authorized users throughout the state such as libraries, area education agencies, etc.


 

Can ICN provide a reference for vendors?

Iowa Communications Network (ICN), a state of Iowa government agency, cannot endorse products or services used. We can confirm that the company is or was a vendor and discuss the "procurement process" that placed them as the winning bid, however, no opinions can be provided on how the performance of that product or service met our criteria, unless there has been a specific incident that occurred, which would have required it to be documented.


What is ICN's legislative language code?

The ICN's legislative language code refers to the Code of Iowa, Chapter 8D. The ITTC, ICN's governing body, was established by Chapter 8D to coordinate communications services of the state of Iowa government, in a consolidated effort, to manage, develop, and ensure these services are compatible with the fiber-optic network.


 

What are ICN's legislative Administrative Rules?

Chapter 751 of the Iowa Administrative Code provides detailed clarification for Chapter 8D, which section of the Code of Iowa, that stipulates who can use the Network.


Who are the ITTC's advisory committees?

There are two advisory committees/councils for the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission. The first council is the Education Telecommunications Council (ETC). The ETC is an 18-member council to oversee scheduling and site usage policies for educational users of the network. The ETC must also coordinate with regional telecommunications councils (RTCs) for recommendations regarding policy and rule changes. RTCs exist to deal with regional and local issues concerning the educational uses of the Network.


 

Where is the ICN located?

The Iowa Communications Network's main office is located in the Grimes State Office Building on the State of Iowa Capitol Complex at 400 East 14th Street in Des Moines, Iowa.


Why doesn't ICN update the video equipment throughout Iowa?

The video equipment located in 700+ video sites throughout Iowa is owned by each facility, ICN provides the Network connection. For example, at your home, you pay your Internet Service Provider for your Internet connection; they do not provide you with a computer or laptop.


 

Why use the ICN when there are other video conferencing options that are free?

ICN's fiber-optic backbone provides the capability for educational facilities to use high-bandwidth applications over the Network. ICN's infrastructure stretches state-wide, having a point of presence in all of Iowa's 99 counties. We understand that facilities are trying to save money by using a free/limited cost video conferencing service over the public Internet; however they can be unreliable in quality and resolution (frequent outages), unsecure, and unfiltered. In addition, some of the free/limited cost video conferencing services are more utilized for a peer-to-peer connection with one/two individuals at each location. They are not meant for an interactive classroom setting.


What video conferencing technology does ICN use?

Many video rooms throughout Iowa connect to the state-wide Network using full-motion video and IP video. ICN believes distance learning is essential for Iowans to compete nationally and globally, whether in education, health, safety, transportation or business. Our goal is to bring the best that video conferencing has to offer, at the best value. As we study this ever-changing industry landscape, have discussions with other leaders of video conferencing, and more importantly, listen to our authorized users' needs, we have determined the best course is to incorporate H.323/SIP (session initiation protocol), into ICN's video conferencing platform.


 

Does ICN provide Internet/broadband service?

ICN's bandwidth sales and data services continue to climb at a steady pace, more than doubling in the past two years. This reflects the demand and need for greater access to high-speed Internet by ICN's authorized users.

Additional facts about ICN's Internet:

  • Seventy-nine (79) percent of the Internet provided by the ICN is used by educational entities.
  • The amount of Internet purchased by authorized users has increased 165 percent over the past two years.
  • The Iowa 1:1 Laptop program was created to develop new innovative teaching and learning practices. ICN provides many Iowa schools with Internet services necessary for the program. Schools are increasing bandwidth by doubling, and in some cases, tripling their previous Internet capacity.

Is ICN the Capitol Complex phone service provider?

The ICN serves nearly 12,000 telephone, fax, and modem numbers. Besides supplying the video and data services to authorized users, the ICN is the corporate telecommunications for the state government enterprise and provides line side telephone services on the Capitol Complex and other locations in the metro Des Moines Area.