Obama touts Iowa city’s broadband network

President Obama said a small Iowa city is able to rival some of the fastest Internet speeds around the world because of a municipally owned network that competes with private companies. 

“The reason they can compete with these other cities is because citizens got together and made the investment to bring competition in and make sure Internet speeds were just as fast there as anywhere else,” Obama said in a YouTube video released Tuesday night. 

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Obama is slated to head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday to highlight the city’s network as a model for others around the country. He will unveil a series of proposals to help connect more people in the United State with high-speed broadband. 

He will specifically pressure the Federal Communications Commission to get involved to reduce state restrictions preventing cities from developing and expending government-owned broadband networks. Nineteen states have some sort of restriction. 

The move will be highlighted in his State of the Union address next week. He said Internet speeds have real world consequences for businesses and students. 

“You know what it feels like when you don’t have a good Internet connection,” he said. “Everything is buffering; you are trying to download a video, and you’ve got that little circle thing that goes around and around, and it's really aggravating.”

He added: “There are real world consequences to this, and it makes us less economically competitive.”

Studies in the past year have found that U.S. cities with publicly owned networks, like Cedar Falls, have speeds far exceeding cities with only traditional Internet service providers.