Rural Broadband Programs and Community Anchor Institutions

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In thinly-populated rural and tribal areas, community anchor institutions (CAIs) can be vitally important to connecting residents to the rest of the world. Schools, libraries, health clinics, and many other anchor institutions rely upon high-capacity broadband to provide education, health, and information services to rural consumers. Unfortunately, because of the economic factors described below, anchor institutions in rural and tribal areas have an especially difficult time obtaining high-capacity broadband connections at affordable rates. Ensuring every rural community has access to high-capacity Internet access through their anchor institutions will often require financial support and other government initiatives to stimulate deployment and promote competition. Connecting rural CAIs to high-capacity broadband can be a catalyst for further investment; when CAIs serve as the “anchor tenant” on a rural network, they improve the business case for community-wide network upgrades or further network expansion. When implementing programs designed to increase access to broadband service in rural areas, federal, state, and local efforts should give high priority to the broadband needs of rural community anchor institutions.

[Tom Koutsky served as Chief Policy Counsel for Connected Nation, where he provided vision and leadership for Connected Nation’s broadband research and policy initiatives.]


Rural Broadband Programs and Community Anchor Institutions