Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) is launching 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service today, making Cedar Falls the first Iowa city in the state to be labeled as a "gigabit city."

The service will be available to any Cedar Falls business or home, delivered through a citywide fiber-optic network.


Cedar Falls Community Services Manager Robert Seymour said in a press release that the gigabit city label will help the city attract business prospects by competing with the best broadband communities in the country.


According to Connect Iowa, a nonprofit organization that works closely with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Cedar Falls joins 10 other cities with gigabit Internet service currently available, with another six in the process of becoming gigabit cities. Metropolitan areas currently with gigabit service include Kansas City, Omaha and Minneapolis, with Chicago, Austin, Texas, and Lawrence, Kan., among the cities with service in the works.


Amy Kuhlers, state program manager at Connect Iowa, said that a similar city-wide gigabit buildout in Des Moines would be harder due to the number of privately-owned companies that the city would have to work with, and that the current infrastructure would make it more challenging; some areas have fiber, some are still running over copper lines, she said. Read a Q&A with Kuhlers from the Business Record

"Trying to put that infrastructure in place could be very cost-prohibitive," Kuhlers said.

Instead, she would anticipate seeing individual developers include gigabit service to businesses and residential areas, rather than a city-wide initiative. That method would be more similar to other cities on the "gigabit city" list. Omaha, for example, will soon have gigabit speeds available to 48,000 residents through CenturyLink.

CFU currently serves more than 600 businesses and 11,000 home Internet customers, and will start by upgrading its top business tier customers to gigabit service.