Read on to learn how SHLB helps schools, libraries, health care providers, and other anchors connect to affordable, high-capacity broadband.

It has been an eventful year! From preparing a broadband infrastructure recommendation for the Trump Administration in January to convincing the FCC to launch a new proceeding to reform the Rural Health Care program in December, we have taken great strides in promoting digital equity. SHLB also celebrated its 100th Member Milestone and then blew right past it. We added almost 50 members in 2017 alone! Thank you for helping to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to schools, libraries, and all anchor institutions. We couldn't do it without you! Stay tuned for the full 2017 Annual Report in January.


Looking Back - Top Ten Moments from 2017

1) United States of Anchors: Seventh Annual Conference

SHLB's Seventh Annual Conference, May 31 - June 2, was the most successful one to date. This conference focused on E-rate, Digital Inclusion, Telehealth, Financing, and the Trump Administration. Among the many highlights, we heard inspirational and informative addresses from Gov. Bob Wise (President of Alliance for Excellent Education), Greg Green (CEO of Fatbeam), and Skyler Ditchfield (CEO of GeoLinks). We also saw a 33% increase in attendance! Read the full press release.

2) Rural Health Care Program Reform

SHLB has been advocating for reform of the Rural Health Care program for the past two years and was pleased to see the FCC vote to begin the process. The vote sought comment on increasing the cap for the RHC Program and other reforms to improve the operations and efficiency of the program. The FCC Order frequently cites the SHLB Coalition's Petition and ex parte submission. Read the press release.

3) Broadband4All: Universal Service Symposium

SHLB's hosted the Fall Symposium Broadband4All on November 2nd to discuss the future of anchor institutions and the four Universal Service Funds (USF) programs. The Symposium helped applicants, state and local government officials, and broadband service providers understand and anticipate upcoming changes in the E-rate, Rural Health Care, Lifeline, and Connect America Fund programs. It also featured an engaging keynote discussion with Mark Jamison and Harold Feld over lunch. Check out photos from the event!

4) 100th Member Celebration

SHLB saw its largest membership growth ever in 2017! Over the summer, SHLB reached its 100th Member Milestone and hosted the SHLB Community for drinks. SHLB then blew past 100 members to end the year at 124 new members! Read the press release.

5) Dinner with Chairman Pai

SHLB Executives had the honor of dining with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at the Seventh Annual Conference. Chairman Pai discussed the importance of connecting anchor institutions and listened to SHLB members' stories and concerns.

6) Re-Launched Grow2Gig+ Webinar Series

SHLB re-launched its successful Grow2Gig+ webinar series in September. The Grow2Gig+ webinar series features industry and thought leaders to guide discussions on hot policy topics. The most recent webinar on E-rate Fiber had the highest registration to date with over 200 people signing up. Watch the recording.

7) Rural ABC Plan 

SHLB released its Rural American Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Program proposal early this year. The Rural ABC proposal emphasizes the importance of an open application process for federal funding to spur competition, networking sharing to promote public-private partnerships, and coordinated and streamlined deployment, such as “dig once” and “make ready” policies. SHLB's Letter to President Trump also puts forward these recommendations.


8) E-rate Funding for Category 2

SHLB submitted comments to the FCC to support E-rate Funding for Category 2. SHLB also signed onto a letter with 53 other organizations supporting Category 2 services. SHLB continues to strongly advocate to maintain and improve the E-rate program.


9) Kent County Field Trip

The SHLB Team left its DC office briefly to visit one of its newest members in Kent Count MD. Scott Boone, Kent County’s Director of Information, showed SHLB its impressive fiber build that puts anchor institutions first. Read the blog "Kent County's Fiber Future" on the project.

10) Beyond the Walls Initiative

SHLB worked with Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN), San Jose State University’s School of Information, National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), and Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) to launch the "Beyond the Walls" Initiative. The Beyond The Walls Initiative provided five $15,000 grants to libraries for the most innovative proposals to use TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) technologies to enable new library hotspots in the service of their communities. See the press release with the winners.

(Okay, looks like we couldn't limit it to just 10 highlights. We were too busy in 2017!)

11) Launched New Member Benefits!

SHLB continuously works to provide the best resources to its members. This month SHLB was proud to launch its new and improved Member Portal that provides access to archived webinars, resource libraries, recordings of call with policymakers, and inside policy information. SHLB also launched its Calls with Policymakers series. So far SHLB Members have had the opportunity to directly asks FCC Commissioners Clyburn and O'Rielly questions.


New Members

SHLB welcomed 3 new members in the past month: ELAE Enterprises, LLCYavapai County ESA E-Rate, and Southern Ohio Health Care Network

SHLB is one of the fastest-growing broadband organizations. Join the movement and help anchor institutions close the digital divide. To learn more in-depth information on these issues and support SHLB's advocacy, join as a Full Memberand take part in our bi-weekly policy calls.

Grow2Gig+ January Webinar

Libraries as Digital Inclusion Champions

January 25, 2018
11 am - 12 pm ET

SHLB's next Grow2Gig+ webinar will explore how libraries can connect their communities and innovative strategies and programs across the country. Stay tuned for speakers!
Register Now

Previous Webinar

Webinar recordings are publicly available for a month after the air date at which point they will only be available to SHLB members.

E-rate Fiber
The FCC modernized its E-rate policies in 2014 to encourage greater build-out of fiber to rural schools and libraries. But the implementation of these policies has been fraught with difficulty, and over one-half of E-rate fiber applications requesting Special Construction Charges have been denied. This webinar presented the perspectives of schools applying for E-rate fiber funding as well as the perspective of a bidding providers. Watch the recording.

SHLB Member Updates

  • SHLB is joining Next Century Cities, Commissioner Clyburn, and five other organizations to announce the #MobileOnly Challenge, which protests the FCC's proposal to lower the federal broadband standard to include 10/1 Mbps mobile service. The Challenge will ask participants to spend one day accessing the internet via only their mobile device -- foregoing desktop devices or laptops with fixed connections -- and to document their experience using the hashtag #MobileOnly. Pledge to take the Challenge and learn more at
  • Read ENA and SETDA's White Paper State Wi-Fi Leadership for Fostering Digital Learning Ready K–12 Schools. This paper explores the steps states are taking to address the wireless equity gaps that exist among their schools.
  • Infinity Communications & Consulting, Inc. purchased Tech Funds Inc (TFI). TFI is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and serves clients in Arizona, North Carolina and South Dakota. With this addition Infinity now serves clients in seven states and one territory.
  • Crown Castle completed its previously announced acquisition of LTS Group Holdings LLC ("Lightower").  Lightower owns or has rights to approximately 32,000 route miles of fiber located primarily in top metro markets in the Northeast, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. With the addition of Lightower (and earlier additions of Sunesys, FiberNet and Wilcon), Crown Castle owns or has rights to over 60,000 route miles of fiber.  Crown Castle is a certified E-rate program provider with deep experience implementing and managing both lit and dark fiber solutions for school districts and libraries.
  • Funds For Learning released its 2017 E-rate Trends Report outlining E-rate successes and challenges.

Happy New Year!
- The SHLB Staff
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