Promoting Competition for Community Anchor Institution Broadband Services


Competition breeds greater investment, more jobs, lower prices, and higher quality customer service. Yet many CAIs still only receive one or no responses after issuing a request for service. Policymakers can promote competition for CAI broadband by ensuring that broadband networks are open to interconnection, reducing prices of wholesale services, and promoting network sharing.

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Recommendations for Action

Federal policymakers can:

  • Enforce the new requirement that Connect America Fund recipients must bid in response to an E-rate RFP issued by a school or library.
  • Place limits on the pricing for special access services to promote greater competition.
  • Eliminate barriers that prevent anchor institutions from sharing their networks with other anchors and with the surrounding residential community to improve the availability of broadband for everyone.
  • Ensure that any new Federally-funded investments in broadband infrastructure have open access provisions similar to those in the BTOP program.
  • Develop mechanisms and incentives to harmonize the E-rate, Healthcare Connect Fund and Connect America Fund investments to promote shared use and prevent funding of duplicative infrastructure.

State and Local Policymakers can:

  • Promote open access networks that are open to interconnection and shared use, in order to promote economic development and aggregated demand, especially in rural areas.
  • Facilitate building of municipal and competitive networks off of state middle-mile networks, perhaps by offering discounted access to the middle-mile network.
  • Coordinate the shared use of fiber networks serving the needs of police, public safety, government offices, schools, libraries, public media, and other anchor institutions.

Examples/Case Studies

2016 Maine Fiber Company's Rate Reductions Article
2016 nDanville Open Access Fiber Network PDF
2015 Maine Rep. Norm Higgins Pushes for Better Internet Access Article
2014 Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) Open Access Article
2014 Harford's HMAN Fiber-Optic Network Article

About the Author

John Windhausen, Jr.  is Executive Director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition. In prior years, he served as President of a telecommunications trade association in Washington D.C., as senior counsel to the United States Senate Commerce Committee working for Senator Hollings (D-SC) and Senator Inouye (D-HI), and as a staff attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. Windhausen graduated from Yale University and the UCLA School of Law.

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Action Plan Authors

Amelia Bryne

Kelleigh Cole

Joanne Hovis

Tom Koutsky

Blair Levin

Christine Mullins

Angela Siefer

Gina Spade

John Windhausen


Steering Committee

Larra Clark, American Library Association

Adrianne Furniss, Benton Foundation

Kevin Taglang, Benton Foundation

Bob Collie, ENA

Lil Kellogg, ENA

Rex Miller, ENA

Susannah Spellman, Internet2/USUCAN