Des Moines (01/23/2023) – The Iowa Communications Network (ICN), one of the pioneers of statewide Networks in the country, is celebrating its 30th anniversary throughout 2023. To mark the milestone, we have launched a Celebrating 30 Years webpage that features how the Network connects with Iowans, historic information, article snapshots, and information about future projects.
The Network became operational in 1993. Created in three parts, parts I and II consisted of installing one state-owned fiber optic connection for service delivery per county (99), one at each of the three state universities, one at Iowa Public Television, and one on the State Capitol Complex for a total of 104 connection points. In 1995, then Governor Terry Branstad signed a plan establishing Part III of the Network, which consisted of adding more than 470 full-motion video sites to public and private school districts, area education agencies, and public libraries throughout Iowa.
In terms of telecommunications technology, ICN’s Executive Director Randy Goddard explains that the fiber has for the most part stayed the same, but the transport electronics have changed greatly. “By upgrading electronics, the Network is able to provide more robust services involving larger bandwidths, lower latency, and more efficiencies on connectivity between users and their network destinations,” said Goddard.
In the early years, the vision was clear for the ICN, as described in 1995 by Governor Branstad when responding to Government Technology in why the Iowa approach was so innovative, “It will give our rural areas a leg up because, through the Internet and the World Wide Web, they can connect to other locations.” Reflecting on the Network,
Goddard added that those first years were spent finalizing fiber installations and establishing our county points of presence to allow us to take the next step of providing connections to K-12 schools and other ICN customers.
In more recent years, the Network has matured as a network service provider and it continues to meet the greater bandwidth demands requested by customers. The infrastructure has been enhanced, a broadband information center was added to monitor the network and respond to network issues, and a carrier-grade lab for testing stability and new services was built.
All of the enhancements allow Iowans to connect with virtual healthcare visits, make 9-1-1 calls that are routed to public safety officials, deliver digital state government services, and provides much needed and reliable broadband to schools, state government, public safety, and healthcare locations across the State. Goddard adds, “The pandemic taught everyone the need for flexibility and alternatives for connecting to each other, whether it be for your personal life or professional services for healthcare, education, and government.”
Our 30 years of service is not only about distance learning and broadband, but also about reinvesting back into communities in Iowa. Just in fiscal year 2022, the ICN reinvested a total of $24M back into the private sector, with $9.51M of that going to private telecoms.
As ICN celebrates its anniversary we want to thank our customers and partners. The Network would not be successful without the support of both. During 2023, ICN will be highlighting customer impact statements and how the Network connects to Iowans. Those statements can be found at icn.iowa.gov/celebrating30.
Today, ICN’s owned fiber optic infrastructure spans approximately 3,400 miles with the remaining miles consisting of leased connections. There is an ICN presence in every county of the State. The state-of-the-art Network provides critical connections and important networking technologies and services to K-12 public and private schools, higher education, hospitals and clinics, state and federal government, National Guard armories, and libraries in Iowa.
To read about ICN’s 30 years visit our webpage (icn.iowa.gov/celebrating30). Social media users can follow along using #Celebrate30ICN.