SHLB Coalition Claims Inadequate Progress in Connecting Nation’s Schools, Libraries, and Health Providers October 09, 2017
For Immediate Release:
October 9, 2017
Communications Manager, SHLB Coalition
SHLB Coalition Claims Inadequate Progress in Connecting
Nation’s Schools, Libraries, and Health Providers
Washington, DC (October 9, 2017) - Last week the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition submitted reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asserting that the nation was falling behind in connecting schools, libraries, health providers, and other community anchor institutions. The reply comments were in response to the FCC’s overdue 706 Notice of Inquiry on whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.
“The National Broadband Plan called for anchor institutions in every community to have gigabit level speeds by the year 2020,” said John Windhausen, SHLB Executive Director. “We are almost two years away and many, maybe even most, anchors fall short of that goal. We need to step on the gas if we hope to adequately connect our communities.”
In addition, the SHLB Coalition urges the Commission to reject measuring deployment based on the presence of either fixed or mobile broadband. While anchor institutions deploy a wide-range of mobile services, including WiFi, TV White Spaces, EBS, and satellite, these wireless technologies stem from an underlying high-capacity fixed network. Mobile broadband is not sufficient to connect schools, libraries, and health providers.
Finally, the SHLB Coalition recommends that the FCC clarify that the 25/3 standard is a residential benchmark. As noted in the FCC’s E-rate Modernization Orders in 2014, anchor institutions generally require 100 Mbps to 1 Gigabit level connections (download).
A commitment to robust anchor institution broadband will ensure rural health clinics can provide telehealth services, schools can open the door to digital learning, and libraries can promote digital citizenship. “Once a service has become subscribed to by more than a majority of providers, it should no longer be considered ‘advanced,’” said Windhausen. “The whole purpose of the 706 statutory language it to ensure that the U.S. broadband policies lead us to the future, not to ratify the status quo.”