Schools, Libraries, and Companies Urge Trump Administration to Invest in Broadband Infrastructure


Source: Schools
Coverage Type: press release
Location:
SHLB Coalition, 1250 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States

Connecting our nation’s schools, libraries, health clinics, and other community anchor institutions (CAIs) to affordable high-speed broadband needs to be a national infrastructure priority, especially in rural markets. In an effort to accomplish this goal, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition released a letter to President Trump signed by 30 companies and anchor institutions urging the Trump Administration to include funding to deploy high-capacity broadband to and through anchor institutions in rural markets in the upcoming infrastructure package.

The term “anchor institution” refers to any large community institution that serves the needs of the general public, and includes community colleges, public housing, community centers, public media, and local government offices in addition to schools, libraries, health clinics and hospitals. These community anchor institutions are crucial to closing America’s digital divide. The letter stresses that deploying high-capacity broadband to all rural anchor institutions is a cost-effective model to connect entire communities and stimulate economic growth. Unfortunately, the needs of anchor institutions are not addressed by existing funding mechanisms like the FCC’s Connect America Fund because anchor institutions need much greater bandwidth than the 10 Mbps service provided to residential consumers. The letter emphasizes the importance of an open application process for federal funding to spur competition, networking sharing to promote public-private partnerships, and coordinated and streamlined deployment, such as “dig once” and “make ready” policies. The digital divide is most acutely felt in rural America. The costs of deploying high-speed broadband in rural areas can be two to three times higher than in urban markets which makes it difficult for commercial companies to invest without financial support.

[Editor’s note: Benton is a member of the SHLB Coalition and signed the letter.]

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