Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act Recognizes Key Role of Anchor Institutions in Closing Digital Divide June 24, 2020
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2020) - Today House Democrats introduced the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, broadband legislation also included in the text of the Moving Forward Act. The bill would take several steps to close the digital divide through community anchor institutions, including:
- Require that networks be open and accessible.
- Fund the Digital Equity Act.
- Financially incentivize broadband build-out.
- Allow municipalities to provide broadband services.
- Make Wi-Fi on school buses eligible for E-rate support.
- Prevent the Federal Communications Commission from placing a cap on the Universal Service Fund.
John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, made the following statement:
“We are extremely pleased to see the introduction of the comprehensive Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, which would make a quantum leap forward toward closing the digital divide. For instance, it provides funding to ensure that all anchor institutions can get gigabit broadband, a long-sought goal of the 2010 National Broadband Plan. From allowing E-rate to cover Wi-Fi on school buses to promoting open access networks, the role anchors play in connecting American communities permeates the bill language.
“Unfortunately, the bill does not include long-term funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, which means that healthcare providers will continue struggling to afford the broadband necessary for telehealth services. We hope that Congress will consider adding a provision to ensure that nonprofit healthcare providers can provide vital telehealth services to their communities.”
The SHLB Coalition is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, D.C. and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.