SHLB Submits BEAD Recommendations to State Broadband Leaders
September 13, 2023


For Immediate Release

Contact: Saskya Cabral

Marketing and PR Director 

SHLB Submits BEAD Recommendations to State Broadband Leaders

SHLB provides 12 recommendations that will help states bridge the digital divide.

Washington, D.C. (September 13, 2023) - Today, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition issued a set of crucial recommendations to State and U.S. Territory Broadband Leaders as they shape their BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment) Five-Year Action Plans and Initial and Final Proposals.

As a prominent advocate for open, affordable, high-quality broadband access for anchor institutions and their communities, SHLB remains committed to closing the digital divide nationwide. The SHLB vision centers around ensurng everyone can access affordable internet services regardless of location.The SHLB recommendations underscore the importance of including anchor institutions in broadband planning, infrastructure, and deployment initiatives. They emphasize the need to broaden the definition of "community anchor institution" to encompass traditional and non-traditional entities. This step aims to ensure that essential services reach every corner of the community, including schools, libraries, healthcare clinics, public safety facilities, multi-tenant dwelling units, institutions of higher education, and more.

"Closing the digital divide is an urgent national priority, and our recommendations serve as a roadmap for broadband leaders to ensure that no one is left behind,” said John Windhausen Jr., Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition. “By including anchor institutions, fostering transparency, resolving pole attachment disputes, and considering innovative solutions such as open access, we can bridge the connectivity gap and pave the way for a more equitable and connected future for all."

“The SHLB recommendations provide valuable guidance to states as we finalize BEAD plans and prepare to receive grant applications to connect homes and anchor institutions across the state,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of Broadband Development of Kansas. “Anchor institutions are vital resources in all our communities. We are committed to ensuring they have high-quality, affordable broadband and partnering with them to eliminate the digital divide in Kansas.”

“SHLB has long been an important voice for anchor institutions on broadband policy issues, and these recommendations are a case in point,” said Philip Neufeld, Executive Officer of Information Technology, Fresno School District. “All students need high-quality broadband at school, at home, and across their daily journey. These recommendations will foster equitable and affordable internet service for all.”

“We commend the SHLB Coalition for developing these recommendations focused on anchor institutions' role in addressing the digital divide in their communities, said Lauren Moore, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Education Department. “Library systems like ours are eager to contribute to state planning and work in partnership with community organizations to ensure all citizens have quality broadband, but also the devices and training needed to take advantage of this service.”

“Community anchor institutions play a crucial role in ensuring open, affordable, high-performance broadband for everyone in the U.S.,” said Adrianne Furniss, Executive Director of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. “These SHLB Coalition recommendations offer a roadmap to speeding network deployment, ensuring service affordability, accelerating broadband adoption, and modeling applications that improve lives through education, healthcare, and civic engagement.”

“We applaud the SHLB Coalition for its proactive approach in creating recommendations and highlighting public libraries as crucial digital access connection points for our local communities,” said Nick Fuchs, Director of Technical Services of Sno-Isle Libraries. “Sno-Isle Libraries ensure high-quality broadband for all library customers through in-building free Wi-Fi access, providing equipment, education, and the necessary support to effectively use these services. We are poised to amplify our efforts with local partnerships to contribute to the statewide and national strategy.” 

“Should the States adopt the SHLB recommendations, they will create an environment conducive to innovative public-private partnerships among Research & Education networks, other nonprofit broadband providers, and private entities to serve the often-overlooked smaller and more rural anchor institutions and communities, leaving no one behind in the pursuit of connectivity,” said Jen Leasure, President of The Quilt.

“SHLB commends the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) for allowing Broadband Leaders the flexibility to creatively identify anchor institutions, including non-traditional ones,” said Kristen Corra, Policy Counsel of the SHLB Coalition. “This approach opens avenues for innovative solutions to deliver affordable broadband services to underserved regions and collect valuable data for future digital equity efforts.”

The SHLB letter urges broadband leaders to thoroughly assess anchor institutions' connectivity needs using NTIA's BEAD guidance for accurate data collection. These institutions possess deep community insights vital for strategic deployment and adoption projects, reducing middle-mile costs, and promoting open-access networks to boost competition.

Examples from various states demonstrate the successful inclusion of non-traditional anchor institutions, such as ranger stations, bar and grills, houses of worship, correctional facilities, public access television station facilities, public parks, grocery stores, and religious organizations, in BEAD Five-Year Action Plans, ensuring comprehensive internet access.

SHLB also recommends including anchor institutions in the broadband planning process, providing gigabit connections to all anchor institutions in the state, funding open access networks, resolving pole attachment disputes, and renewing funding for the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), among other ideas.

Please click here to access the full set of recommendations.


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