Pilot project addresses broadband accessibility and affordability for students and community residents
West Des Moines, Iowa – The City of West Des Moines and Microsoft Corp. announced the completion of the first phase of a project to address gaps in availability of high-speed broadband service for students, residents and businesses in the Valley Junction neighborhood. The City and Microsoft also announced Phase Two for the project.
Phase One of the project includes four components, including free community Wi-Fi service along 5th Street in the Valley Junction Business District, free mobile Internet devices and data plans for low and moderate-income students at Hillside Elementary School, point-to-point high-speed Wi-Fi service to the home for low and moderate-income students and their families in the Valley Junction neighborhood, and free Wi-Fi service for residents of the Phenix School Apartments. The first phase of the project was announced in July 2018.
The broadband project is a partnership between the City and multiple organizations. The City and Microsoft are providing funding for the service. Aureon Technology is providing access to its fiber-optic network for the project which gives the Valley Junction residents and businesses access to fast and reliable internet service on a fully redundant network, and Ovation Networks is operating the community Wi-Fi system. The West Des Moines Community School District facilitated student access, and the Historic Valley Junction Foundation administered the private funding. This is a first-of-its-kind project for the Des Moines region, bringing together public and private resources to address community broadband needs.
“We are pleased to see the completion of Phase One of this project to improve access to broadband service for the residents of the Valley Junction neighborhood,” said Steve Gaer, Mayor of West Des Moines. “In addition to providing an essential service to students and families, the project is providing essential information and learnings that will help us expand this project and inform planning for future projects.
Microsoft has committed an additional $100,000 to help support Phase Two of the Valley Junction broadband project. Phase Two will include expansion of the free community Wi-Fi service to an area bordered by 4th Street to 6th Street, Railroad Avenue to Elm Street.
“Microsoft is excited to see the completion of Phase One of the Valley Junction broadband project, and we are pleased to help support expansion of the community Wi-Fi service in Phase Two,” said Mike Miles, General Manager, Datacenter Community Development, Microsoft Corp. “West Des Moines is an important community for Microsoft, and we are glad to continue our support for this public-private initiative to narrow the broadband gap for underserved parts of the community,”
The project was borne from economic and development planning discussions between the City and the West Des Moines Leadership Advisory Board (WestLAB). WestLAB identified broadband infrastructure as a priority for retaining and recruiting businesses and citizens. WestLAB recognized that high-speed broadband service is seen as the “fourth utility,” and access to affordable broadband service is foundational to enhancing economic and educational opportunities.
The Valley Junction neighborhood was selected for the project because of the area’s historical significance to West Des Moines and because of the lack of new investment in affordable high-speed broadband options for the neighborhood’s students, residents and businesses. Valley Junction also has a high-concentration of students from low and moderate-income families. One of the target goals of the project is to enhance educational opportunities and outcomes for students in the neighborhood. The pilot will also provide a research base that the project partners can use to determine the most cost-effective ways to continue to increase broadband access in West Des Moines and other communities.
About the City of West Des Moines
West Des Moines is a rapidly developing community located in Polk, Dallas, Madison and Warren counties. The population of West Des Moines is 65,608 people, the eighth largest city in Iowa. The City of West Des Moines offers excellent employment opportunities; a diversity of housing; quality school districts; and a variety of entertainment options, such as dining, shopping, recreation, parks, trails and cultural activities. West Des Moines has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Midwest with more than 61,000 jobs in the community. For more, please visit: www.wdm.iowa.gov.
Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. For more information, please visit: www.microsoft.com.
West Des Moines announces details of Valley Junction Broadband Project
News briefing to provide scope, timeline and economic benefits of Valley Junction Broadband Project
Leaders from West Des Moines and Microsoft Corp. will conduct a public update Wednesday to provide information about Phase I & II of the Valley Junction Broadband Project.