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

It's the end of another whirlwind year here at the SHLB Coalition! From saving hundreds of E-rate applications from being denied, to convincing the FCC to raise the funding cap for the Rural Health Care Program, we've taken great strides to promote digital equity. SHLB also celebrated its 150th member milestone, adding over 40 new members in 2018 alone. Thank you for helping to bring open, affordable, high-quality broadband to schools, libraries, and all anchor institutions. We couldn't do it without you!
Stay tuned for our 2018 Annual Report in January.


Looking Back - Top Ten Moments from 2018

1) 8th Annual SHLB Conference: Building the Future - Bit by Bit

Larry Irving
The 8th Annual SHLB Conference, hosted from October 10 to 12 in Washington, D.C., was our most successful to date! Sessions addressed E-rate, digital inclusion, rural healthcare, broadband infrastructure, and more. Highlights included a policy jam session with FCC Commissioner O'Rielly, a Congressional panel, and inspirational keynotes from digital equity advocate Larry Irving and Grahamtastic Founder Leslie Morissette. Make sure you save the date for the 9th Annual SHLB Conference: October 16 - 18, 2019 in Crystal City, Virginia. 

2) Rural Health Care Program Funding Cap Increase

The demand for Rural Health Care (RHC) funding exceeded the $400 million limit for the very first time in 2016. Since then, SHLB has led the way in advocating for an increase in the cap to account for 20 years of inflation. In June, our efforts - including a Hill briefing, which prompted a letter from 31 Senators on the matter - yielded a big victory: the FCC's decision to raise the funding cap to $571 million. Read the statement.

3) 150th Member Celebration

To date in 2018, the SHLB Coalition has had the pleasure of welcoming over 40 members, surpassing the 150th member milestone! Thank you to our members, for all of your support. We're proud to advocate on your behalf, and look forward to offering you even more value in 2019. 

Membership is open to any organization that supports the SHLB mission statement. Learn more

4) To and Through Anchors: A Strategy to Connect Rural Communities

SHLB's To-and-Through strategy, released in February of this year, proposes to solve the rural broadband gap by way of deploying high-capacity broadband to anchor institutions. Anchors can serve as "jumping-off" points, extending service to surrounding business and residential consumers using a blend of wired and wireless technologies. 

5) Saved E-rate Applicants from Unfair Denials

In January, a sizable collection of FY2017 E-rate requests were still in review, and were on the verge of being denied because of the confusion around the E-rate application drop-down menu. SHLB's advocacy emphasized that the E-rate applicants were confused by the list of menu choices and the inadequate instructions.  The FCC ordered USAC not to deny these applications over this technicality, saving hundreds of E-rate applications from what would have been an unfair denial."
In January, a sizable collection of FY2017 E-rate requests were still in review, and were on the verge of being denied because of the confusion around the E-rate application drop-down menu. SHLB's advocacy emphasized that the E-rate applicants were confused by the list of menu choices and the inadequate instructions. The FCC ordered USAC not to deny these applications over this technicality, saving hundreds of E-rate applications from what would have been an unfair denial.

6) Developed New Strategic Plan

To replace our 2015 - 2018 Strategic Plan, SHLB has worked through the year to plan its strategic direction for 2019 through 2021. This plan, which becomes public in 2019, contains three pillars to guide the organization's advocacy. We will strengthen our organizational capacity, expand our policy and press operations, and further enhance our membership engagement.

7) Advocated for EBS

As SHLB requested in our meetings with Chairman Pai, the FCC opened the "Transforming the 2.5 GHz Band" proceeding this year to modernize Educational Broadband Service (EBS) Spectrum rules. SHLB was among those advocating that EBS remain a resource to serve the public interest. In our comments and meetings, we asked the FCC to adopt several specific policy guidelines that could transform EBS into a tool for closing the digital divide, especially for rural markets.


8) Honors Club

SHLB was generously funded by the Gates Foundation - a funding source which will expire at the end of this year. To assist us as we make the transition to become self-sustaining, we launched our Honors Club with the goal of raising $100,000. We'd like to thank our Honors Club members, from the bottom of our hearts, for your donations. Big or small,, your contributions make it possible for SHLB to continue advocating for anchor institution broadband.

9) Policy Groups

To strengthen our issue advocacy, the SHLB membership formed several internal working policy groups: E-rate, Spectrum, Rural Health Care, Joint Universal Service Fund Petition, and most recently, the Broadband for Anchor Institutions Legislative Working Group (BAILWG). These policy groups -- particularly the E-rate group -- have vigorously enhanced SHLB's policy activity. 


10) Connecting Anchors Cost Study

In February, SHLB released a study estimating that it would cost less than $20 billion to connect all CAIs to fiber in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. The report was prepared by CTC Technology & Energy, and found that connecting anchors would bring 95 percent of the U.S. population within the zip code of a broadband connection.

Words from Windhausen: How the 116th Congress Could Close the Digital Divide

In recent years broadband legislation has focused on residential and business connectivity, ignoring the needs of community anchor institutions. SHLB Executive Director John Windhausen explains in his blog that the 116th Congress now has has a "golden opportunity" to close the digital divide with broadband funding legislation. Read on for a cost-effective strategy to ensure that every community in America has high-speed connectivity.
Read the Blog

New Members

SHLB gained three new members over last month: the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), Sonic, and the New Mexico Primary Care Association (NMPCA). Please join us in extending a warm welcome to these organizations.

    Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)          Sonic
New Mexico Primary Care Association

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 Member and take part in our bi-weekly policy calls.

Grow2Gig+ January Webinar

Potential Pitfalls for E-rate Applicants

January 23, 2018
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET

SHLB's next Grow2Gig+ webinar will inform E-rate applicants about implications of the ongoing issues like amortization, the gift rule, and the Form 470/471 drop-down menu confusion. 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.

Unsolved Mysteries of the Rural Health Care Program

Rural Health Care (RHC) Program participants have been asking a lot of questions over the last few months - both about the uncertain future of the program and about FY2018 funding requests. But the biggest question of all for FY2018 applicants is simply, "When will I know if my funding has been approved?"

RHC applications for this funding year were due by June 29, yet we're now five months into FY2018 and still have little knowledge of whose requests have been approved. USAC's cryptic statement in their November 1st newsletter that, "qualifying single-year funding requests with no upfront costs will be fully-funded," leaves several open questions: How much total funding have FY2018 applicants requested? Will the sub-cap for multi-year applications be sufficient to fund all consortia requests? On the latest Grow2Gig+ Webinar, SHLB explores these and the other "mysteries" of the RHC program. Watch the recording.

SHLB Member Updates

The Benton Foundation recently released research, including "The Media Democracy Agenda: The Strategy and Legacy of FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps," and "Digital Skills and Job Training: Community-driven initiatives are leading the way in preparing Americans for today’s jobs"

The Center for Innovative Technology and NTIA hosted the Virginia Broadband Summit October. Read NTIA's recent blog on the event.

GeoLinks announced a public-private partnership with a consortium of three universities to deploy fire detection and prevention systems across California. Press release | WIRED article

Happy New Year!
- The SHLB Staff
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