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Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Vision of Our Future

Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Vision of Our Future

“Grow2Gig+: Anchors Advance Communities” is the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition campaign to make gigabit speeds for community anchor institutions (CAIs)—schools, healthcare providers, libraries, public media outlets, public housing, community centers, community colleges, and other institutions of higher education—a national priority because, unfortunately, the broadband needs of anchor institutions often do not receive the attention they deserve. The broadband industry and policymakers often focus on small businesses and/or residential users and overlook the broadband needs of community anchors. Many schools, libraries, and health clinics—especially those in rural areas—simply cannot afford the broadband connections they need.

“Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Vision of Our Future” is the first component of the Grow2Gig+ campaign, which will include a full Action Plan; an interactive website that provides a hub for discussion, updates, and information; and a comprehensive set of Policy Papers to guide these national efforts.

The “Vision” paper highlights the importance of high-capacity broadband for education, economic development, civic engagement, and equity. Key findings in the paper illustrate why action is needed, including:

  • Just 65 percent of public schools have a fiber connection, and 63 percent are below the gigabit goal, meaning nearly 40 million children are without enough bandwidth for digital learning.
  • About half of all public libraries have a broadband connection slower than 10 Mbps.
  • Rural health clinics face a significant broadband speed gap compared to metro communities, impacting Electronic Medical Records and Health Information Exchanges.

The Action Plan was developed by the SHLB Coalition to provide ideas and actionable policy recommendations for government leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to address the broadband needs of anchor institutions. This Action Plan highlights these needs; discusses the gaps in CAI broadband connectivity; explains why affordable, high-capacity broadband for anchor institutions is vitally important to the health and prosperity of communities nationwide; and recommends actions that federal, state, and local policymakers can take to improve broadband connectivity for anchor institutions. The policy papers will also provide a list of resources and case studies for those who wish to explore a particular topic in more detail.

The future belongs to those who are connected to high-capacity broadband. Investing in broadband deployment to our nation’s CAIs ensures that the benefits of the Internet are widely available to everyone, promoting equity for all.

Community access to broadband is an attainable goal, but only if we reach together, which is why ENA is proud to support SHLB’s Action Plan as they help address the shortage of adequate broadband for anchor institutions and their communities.

Download the “Vision” paper and learn more here at http://www.shlb.org/action-plan.

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