WASHINGTON – Today the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition released its 2021 Policy Roadmap, an agenda to address the digital divide through community anchor institutions (CAIs). The roadmap outlines nine advocacy goals that, if accomplished, would vastly improve broadband for CAIs and their communities.
"The Biden Administration gives us all a fresh opportunity to rectify the inequities revealed by the coronavirus pandemic, especially the ever-present digital divide," said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition. "The booming demand for online services – for telemedicine, remote learning, and online information access – means that anchor institutions and consumers need significantly more bandwidth than ever. At the same time, patrons, students, and patients who don't have or can't afford internet at home cannot take advantage of these virtual necessities. They must either risk COVID exposure through in-person visits, or go without the healthcare and education that every person in this country deserves. That’s why the SHLB Coalition has expanded its agenda for 2021. Our Policy Roadmap focuses on nine policy initiatives to ensure that anchor institutions have the broadband support they need and that they are empowered to connect residents who lack home access."
The SHLB Coalition will focus on the following policy priorities in 2021:
- Increase affordable residential broadband and adoption through CAIs.
- Develop more accurate broadband maps that include CAIs.
- Strengthen and broaden the E-rate program.
- Increase funding for and streamline operations of the Rural Health Care program.
- Include higher education in broadband access initiatives.
- Reform the Universal Service Fund contribution mechanism.
- Promote greater spectrum availability for CAIs.
- Streamline pole attachments and rights-of-way access.
- Fund broadband infrastructure deployment "to and through" CAIs to reach residential consumers.
To view the full 2021 Policy Roadmap and learn more about these priorities, visit www.shlb.org/policy/roadmap.