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SHLB Unveils Action Plan for Next Gen Broadband

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) has come up with an "action plan"—actually a series of 10 policy papers—for getting those institutions connected to next-generation high-speed broadband and making that a national priority.

In “Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan," the coalition, whose members include Google, Sprint, and Next Century Cities, looks to highlight gaps in connectivity and make it clear just how important broadband access is.

It is also part of a larger effort to make gigabit speeds for anchor institutions the table stakes of connectivity.

According to SHLB, the key takeaways from all the papers are the need for sharing, "such as aggregation and public-private partnerships that eliminate silos and reduce costs"; competition—"promoting competition to incentivize growth and bring more affordable options"; and funding—"funding strategies that help communities meet up-front build-out and deployment costs, and ongoing monthly fees."

“Anchor institutions are not just a key part of the solution to the broadband availability challenge, you are also key to the adoption challenge,” said Gigi Sohn, counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, at an event in Washington, D.C., according to the coalition.

At about the same time the plan was being released, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt was telling an audience at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council's 14th annual Access to Capital and Telecom Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., that it was critical that there be buildout requirements in the FCC's 5G deployment plans to insure that it was rolled out to everyone, no matter who they were, where they were, or how much money they made.

Talking about the E-Rate subsidy launched under his watch at the FCC in the mid-1990s, Hundt said one key to that program was that it was deployed in all communities regardless of wealth of demographics at roughly the same time and said that should be the case with 5G, including for schools and libraries. He said if 5G is deployed only where people who can pay to have it get it, it will be reliving the "worst parts" of the cable build-out.