Waverly Light & Power looking to expand high-speed broadband - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATED: Waverly Light & Power looking to expand high-speed broadband

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

High-speed internet is becoming a necessity for many people, especially to do business.

But right now, nearly 30 percent of Iowans don't have high-speed broadband access.  That's why one eastern Iowa community is taking steps to help improve internet access.

Peoples Insurance Agency is a growing business in Waverly.  As the company got off the ground three years ago, it quickly realized it needed high-speed internet.

"It became a necessity when we're having clients on the phone and you need to quickly look something up for them, or be able to send and receive larger files with email attachments," said Nick Keith, transportation sales manager with Peoples Insurance Agency.

But Peoples had trouble getting broadband, until Waverly Light and Power installed a fiber line for them.  With the high speed connection, the company's been able to double in size.

"When we can become more productive, more efficient, and continue to grow, that's when we can add on more staff and employees to meet those needs," said Keith.

The demand for broadband keeps growing locally.  That's why Waverly Light and Power is looking to officially become a communications utility, helping more businesses like Peoples Insurance get high-speed connections in the area.

"What we used to look at when we looked at four lane highways, and you said we have to have a four lane highway in order for people to connect with us and do business with us or move here, that's now broadband, high-speed broadband," said Diane Johnson, Waverly Light and Power general manager.

Businesses like First National Bank are anxious to get broadband so customers at all their bank branches will have the same level of high-speed service.

"The speed at which something becomes available, if it works, customers adapt very quickly because it makes their life a lot easier," said Susan Whitson, First National Bank chief financial officer.

Those are connections to improving the quality of life for people already in eastern Iowa, while also attracting new residents and businesses to the area. 

The city council will begin reviewing Waverly Light and Power's concepts for expanding broadband at a work session April 22nd.  If approved, the utility will look at start-up steps and securing funding and private partnerships to help expand high-speed internet connections.  Many commercial customers could have upgraded internet access within about two years, with the goal of expanding broadband connectivity to rural and residential customers in the future.

You can read more about broadband connection issues and a recent study on the matter here.

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