UnityPoint Health received federal awards from the Rural Health Care Pilot Program and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) both part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law by President Obama in 2009. These grants supported the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand data centers, encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service, and develop and maintain a nationwide public map of broadband service capability and availability. Through its subsidiaries, UnityPoint Health administered the federal funding to purchase new robust equipment, fiber telecommunication huts, and constructing fiber routes connecting the fiber network backbone to healthcare related community anchor institutions (CAIs) and businesses. The purpose of these grants were to improve broadband access to these CAIs in rural underserved areas within the Midwest.
By 2010 UnityPoint Health, one of the largest health systems in the country created three subsidiaries as a result of receiving broadband grants from the ARRA initiative. These subsidiaries are HealthNet connect, LC, a health care consortium with over 100 health care providers connected to our private fiber optic network and infrastructure. HNc Services, Inc. and BroadNet are private companies that provide low cost broadband Internet to hospitals, clinics, schools, local government and businesses. Together these companies form HNcBNc. HNcBNc, through UnityPoint Health, own their own private fiber optic network that runs through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. Today they connect hospitals, clinics, businesses, schools and local government in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois and will expand to Wisconsin. They mainly focus on the rural parts of the states.
Not only does HNcBNc provide low cost high-speed broadband Internet, but they also provide a host of broadband technology services such as cloud services, telehealth services and information technology support services. HNcBNc is now a revenue producing business and have created dozens of good paying high-tech jobs right here in Iowa. This is a tremendous success story for the ARRA Broadband initiatives!
HNcBNc has partnered with local leadership to build an operating network that closes any "digital divide" between rural and urban communities. One of these partnerships is with Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU). HNcBNc provides CFU with 10 gigabytes of transport to help deliver gigabit broadband services to the city of Cedar Falls. This aligns with HNcBNc’s mission of providing services that helps customers make a difference in the lives of the communities they serve.