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The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) has evolved from its initial role of delivering distance learning to K-12 schools across Iowa to being the primary provider of broadband transport and services to education, government, public safety, and healthcare in Iowa. Choose a section below to find out more about the changes in the Network over time.


  • Early 1980s

    Iowa community colleges were the first to experiment with educational networks for distance learning. Several community colleges planned and installed separate microwave-based telecommunications networks.

  • 1987

    Iowa community colleges proposed the idea of a statewide microwave-based network to connect the community colleges. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued but proposals for a fiber optic network were received. The state tried to award the RFP for a fiber optic network but was unsuccessful.

  • 1989

    Legislation providing for the construction of a shared, statewide telecommunications network was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

  • 1990

    The Iowa Department of General Services issued a notice of Intent to Award to Kiewit Network Technologies for network construction.

  • 1991

    Part l & Part ll state-owned construction began. This consisted of installing one fiber optic endpoint per county (99), an endpoint at each of the three state universities, IPTV, and at the State Capitol Complex for a total of 104 endpoints.

  • 1993

    Part l & Part ll became operational at 104 sites.

  • 1994

    The ICN became a state agency and the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission (ITTC) was established by the Legislature. Telemedicine and the federal government were given authorized user status.

  • 1995-1999

    Part lll construction commenced and completed. Part lll consists of connections leased to the state by the private sector and connects Part l and Part ll to schools, libraries, and area education agencies.

  • 1995

    The agency staff organization and structure was approved by the Governor.


  • 1995

    The first Part III site, Battle Creek - Ida Grove High School became operational. The Audubon Armory was designated as a community learning center and connected to the ICN. Use of ICN services also assists the National Guard in training and simulation technology.

  • 1998

    ICN began operating and maintaining the State Firewall.

  • 2000

    ICN began its participation in the Universal Service Fund (USF) program as a common carrier. Over the years, ICN has saved Iowa’s schools and libraries over $53 million.

  • 2000

    The ICN began to upgrade the backbone of the Network to Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and MPEG-2 technologies.

  • 2000

    Deployment of an ICN ring topology structure continued. The ring structure features two-way uninterrupted signal transmission, i.e., increased dependability.

  • 2001

    The ICN's Internet bandwidth jumped to 400 Mbps, assuring fast, efficient, dependable and affordable access to information on the Web for authorized users.

  • 2004

    The last year that ICN received an operational support appropriation associated with subsidizing video rates. Fees for services make up the majority of the revenue received by the ICN.

  • 2007

    The Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP) was awarded $9.95 million under the FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Program. IRHTP and ICN began the preparation and implementation of a secure, statewide, high-speed Healthcare Network.

  • 2010-2013

    ICN was awarded a $16.2 million federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant, along with ICN’s 30% matching funds, resulting in a $24 million upgrade to the statewide Network. The project enhanced the Network to a 10 GB backbone.

  • 2012

    Iowa City CSD was the first school district in the state to subscribe to a full 1Gbps of bandwidth for Internet through the ICN.

  • 2015

    ICN’s Broadband Information Center was built to house the Virtual Presence Monitoring Network which can instantly display an indication of a Network issue.


  • 2016-2021

    Deploying a network upgrade to provide 100GB capacity on the network backbone, upgradeable to 200GB.

  • 2017

    Added additional Security services.

  • 2018-2021

    Partnering with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) to implement a dedicated and secure network for Iowa’s Next Generation 911 (NG911).

  • 2019

    Completed VoIP platform migration. Consolidated 6 legacy Voice systems and moved over 8,000 phones for 168 customers.

  • 2019-2021

    Deploying a healthcare network upgrade for IRHTP to replace legacy equipment for redundancy and increased bandwidth speeds.

  • 2021

    Partnering with FirstNet, built with AT&T, on behalf of the Iowa HSEMD to use FirstNet as the backup connection for Iowa-based Public Safety Answering Points providing 9-1-1 services to Iowans.

  • 2021

    Added as a member of the Automated Transportation Council (ATC). The council is chaired by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

  • 2021

    Partnering with Iowa State University to study wireless technology in three counties. ISU received a $16M National Science Foundation research grant.

View the ICN Timeline pdf.


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