WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 – More than five years after the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan, policy-makers and on-the-ground-advocates seeking to build better broadband networks will convene here this week at the annual conference of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition.
The conference, “Enhancing Broadband Through Innovation, Investment and Inclusion,” has become the regular Washington gathering point for those engaged in public broadband initiatives.
Among the keynote and plenary sessions at this year’s conference include addresses by Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, former Virginia Gov. and Sen. George Allen, plus Mayor Jill Boudreau of Mount Vernon, Washington.
Mount Vernon is building a Gigabit Network in its community, and she’ll be joined by Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities, the new non-profit coalition seeking to encourage municipalities to enhance next-generation broadband connectivity through advanced networks.
With so national and municipal developments advancing municipal and public-private networks – together with fast-moving developments at the FCC concerning the eRate and the White House’s ConnectED initiative – SHLB has become an important destination for those entities often called “community anchor institutions.”
These schools, hospital and health clinic, libraries and public computing centers serve as an important resource to ensure greater connectivity to, and knowledge of, our digital economy.
A pre-conference session on Wednesday include a two moderated discussion of the Healthcare Connect Fund, led by Jeff Mitchell of Lukas, Nace, Gutierrez & Sachs; and Bill England of e-Copernicus.
Additionally, the FCC, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the newly-formed National Digital Inclusion Alliance will be hosting related events on Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday’s agenda includes addresses by Allen, Quinn, and an address on “Healthcare’s Invisible Strength” by David Hotchkiss of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Panel sessions will address developments in the eRate, wireless policy, ConnectED, Net Neutrality, municipal broadband, plus broadband research and planning.
Friday features a keynote by Clyburn, plus additional sessions on broadband adoption and digital inclusion. The closing plenary will feature Ray Timothy, CEO of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network and Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the Washington, DC, public library.
Created in 2009 to address the shortage of broadband for anchor institutions, the SHLB Coalition aims to organize these entities together with commercial companies and non-profit broadband providers to improve broadband connectivity for anchor institutions and their communities in all regions of the country. John Windhausen is the coalition’s executive director.
“Anchor institution personnel can train people about broadband services and technologies, thereby stimulating broadband usage and demand,” reads the SHLB Coalition mission and vision. “Furthermore, high-capacity ‘middle mile’ broadband networks serving community anchor institutions can be used as ‘jumping off points’ to serve surrounding residential and business consumers. Several studies show that building high-capacity broadband to community anchor institutions has a multiplier effect that generates tremendous economic growth for the community and the nation.”