John Windhausen

Emergency Connectivity Fund: The Case for Flexibility and More Money

Congress took a significant step toward solving the digital divide when it created the Emergency Connectivity Fund in the spring of 2021, appropriating over $7 billion for schools and libraries to connect learners to broadband off campus. Interviews with nearly a dozen Emergency Connectivity Fund applicants reveal that, while there is room for improvement, the program as a whole seems to be working. The FCC has approved applications both large and small in almost every state in the country.

What Does the Infrastructure Bill Mean for Anchor Institution Broadband?

Acknowledging that there’s no closing the digital divide without anchors, the Senate infrastructure bill's broadband component adopts a broad definition of “community anchor institution” that includes public housing authorities, healthcare providers, and other community support organizations – anchors that vulnerable populations depend upon the most. Yet when doling out the funding, the program relegates anchors to third priority, meaning that funds may be completely awarded to connect unserved and underserved households before any funding goes to anchor institution connectivity.

Connecting Anchor Institutions to Broadband Requires Access to Poles

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition released a set of Pole Attachment Principles to Expedite Broadband Deployment to Anchor Institutions and Their Communities. We must reform the outdated, lengthy and costly process of attaching broadband cables to utility poles. Utility poles are the backbone of the nation’s critical broadband infrastructure and play a particularly important role in connecting rural residents and anchors to reliable, high-speed internet.

Creating an Emergency Connectivity Fund to Outlast the Pandemic

The recently-approved American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated $7.171 billion to a new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), an historic expansion of the E-rate program to connect students, teachers, and library patrons who lack home broadband access.

Petition Calls for E-Rate Funds for K-12 Cybersecurity Needs

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), State E-rate Coordinators' Alliance (SECA), Allianced for Excellent Education (All4Ed), Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) submitted to the Federal Communications Commission an estimate outlining the cost to provide much-needed cybersecurity protections to US K-12 school districts and a petition for declaratory relief and rulemaking urging the agency to expand the E-rate program to cover these protections.

Education Advocates Ask FCC to Close Remote Learning Gap

A coalition of education advocates petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to close the remote learning gap for the estimated 15 to 16 million students who lack home internet access. If granted, the petition would allow schools and libraries to connect these disconnected learners using funding from the E-rate program.

We Need Broadband for America Now

“We should construct broadband policy based on the ways people use broadband, and that has changed drastically,” writes Benton Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet in “Broadband for America Now.” He’s absolutely right. Everything has changed since the coronavirus pandemic began – including the ways we use broadband. SHLB has long argued that community anchor institutions (CAIs) require high-quality broadband to serve their communities in the 21st century.

Park Hill School District in Kansas City: An FCC Decision E-rate Applicants Should Know About

A years-long headache for the Park Hill (Kansas City, MO) School District has finally come to a satisfying resolution that could benefit schools and libraries across the US. Since Feb 2018, Park Hill has wrestled with the federal government to obtain E-rate funding for a fiber project connecting several of its schools. On April 27, the Federal Communications Commission finally granted Park Hill’s E-rate funding request in a decision that also sets a good precedent for the larger community of E-rate applicants.

$5.25 billion needed for student broadband and devices

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition believes the “Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020” (H.R. 6563), introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), is extremely important to help students engage in online learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation will provide $2 billion in emergency supplemental funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program to fund broadband connections and devices for the millions of students that do not have broadband at home.

SHLB Applauds Chairman Pai’s Leadership in Connecting Schools and Libraries

In a letter, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition applauded Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for promoting fiber broadband deployment to schools and libraries through the E-rate program. “Competitive bidding has been a fundamental principle of the E-rate program since its inception,” said John Windhausen, executive director of the SHLB Coalition.