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How Community Anchor Institutions Can Help Close the Digital Divide

How Community Anchor Institutions Can Help Close the Digital Divide - GeoLinks

Community Anchor Institutions play a pivotal role in closing both the California and U.S. Digital Divide. So, what are both the government and key broadband stakeholders doing to ensure they get connected? Let’s explore.

While the United States has clearly and rapidly advanced technologically over the years, the fact remains that the country still remains in a digital divide. The digital divide, defined as the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not, has left a large portion of U.S. citizens, predominantly in rural America, at an extreme disadvantage.

One of the primary ways this gap can be resolved is to ensure adequate broadband Internet access is deployed to all communities – rural, urban, and suburban. From a business stand point, however, the majority of today’s major carriers find that building out networks to residents and businesses in rural areas with low population densities does not often provide a healthy Return on Investment (ROI). Therefore, if both homes and businesses can’t be immediately serviced, connected anchor institutions become a critical community resource. So, what is a community anchor institution?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), community anchor institutions are, “schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges, and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the aged.”

Fortunately, over the past few decades a variety of federal and state programs have formed aiming to provide the funding needed to connect community anchor institutions across the country.

E-Rate Program – 1996 Telecommunications Act

As part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Congress authorized the E-Rate program. This program specifically aims to connect public and non-profit K-12 schools, in addition to public and private libraries, to advanced telecommunication networks. Funding for the program is provided by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which collects fees on national telecommunications services. USAC provides schools and libraries with up to 90% of funding for advanced telecommunications services.

E-Rate Program – 1996 Telecommunications Act - Geolinks

While the E-Rate program has undoubtedly made strides towards closing the digital divide nationally, we still have a long way to go. The Schools Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) has identified that 39% of rural Americans and 41% of tribal lands still lack basic broadband Internet services. SHLB has also identified that:

  • 42% of schools do not meet the minimum requirement set by the FCC for broadband services.
  • 41% of libraries have a broadband connection of 10Mbps or less, which is lower than the FCC’s recommended 100Mbps for libraries.
  • 88% of rural area healthcare providers have a broadband connection of less than 50Mbps.

The majority of these statistics stem from unconnected anchor institutions located in rural America. In addition to the efforts taking place federally, programs have also been developed at a state level. California, for example, has programs in place to aid in connecting community anchor institutions.

California Teleconnect Fund

The California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) was created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 1996 to reaffirm its commitment to universal broadband services with a focus on community anchor institutions. The program provides discounts on voice (25%) and broadband services (50%) for eligible organizations. These organizations include public schools, private schools, libraries, community based organizations, hospital and health clinics, California Community Colleges, and California Telehealth Network.

California Emerging Technology Fund

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) was created in 2005 to help “provide leadership statewide to close the digital divide by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband to unserved and underserved communities and populations.”

Established as a non-profit corporation pursuant to orders from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), CETF has access to a total of $60 million in funding to support deploying broadband access across California, particularly in underserved communities. The CPUC also directed that at least $5 million of these funds should be used for telemedicine projects.

Effective Use of Capital

With the presence of funds being allocated towards connecting community anchor institutions across the state of California, it is critical to evaluate how the capital can be used in the most effective and efficient manner. California has a diverse range of topologies with a variety of unique and differing challenges. Therefore, in order to successfully connect anchor institutions state-wide, it’s imperative to deploy hybrid networks.

A hybrid network utilizes a variety of technologies such as fiber, fixed wireless, and fixed 5G. While there are pros and cons to each delivery method, when used together, they have the ability to create a complete solution that can deliver multi-gigabit bandwidth to anchors in both urban, suburban andultra-rural communities.

GeoLinks – Bridging the Digital Divide

GeoLinks was founded in 2011 with the mission of helping close the U.S. digital divide. In the past few years, the Company has further focused its efforts on connecting underserved and unserved anchors to the Internet. Working closely with regional broadband consortiums, organizations like CETF, and non-profits such as CENIC, GeoLinks has connected dozens of California K-12 schools and libraries.

Currently, the telecom is completing network construction that promises to scale a rural hospital in Kern River Valley’s bandwidth from 12Mgps to 1Gbps and fully convert its 170 POTs lines into Hosted VoIP lines. The redundant one gigabit speeds plan to benefit the entire community as GeoLinks will offer its services to other local businesses in partnership with the larger Kern River Valley Broadband Project. This case study showcases just how important community anchor institutions become in closing the divide.

Ultimately, deploying broadband networks to anchor institutions is a cost-efficient and vitally important investment in our nation’s future. 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. That being said, while connecting our anchors is imperative, this alone won’t close the digital divide.

To learn more, read our recent article published in Forbes about the “Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide”.

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California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks Awarded $87.8M to Expand Rural Internet in California and Nevada

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On Tuesday, August 28th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially released the results of its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction, allocating $1.488 Billion to close the United States’ Digital Divide. Innovative award winning telecom, GeoLinks, headquartered in Camarillo, California, received a total of $87.8M to expand rural internet in California and Nevada, making it the largest auction winner in the state of California, and 5th largest winner in the nation overall. Ousting big telcos such as Verizon, Frontier, and AT&T, this is the first time the largest winner of CAF in California has been an independent operator and not an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).

“GeoLinks’ founding mission is to close the U.S. Digital Divide,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “With this promise of capital from the FCC, GeoLinks will be able to further expand our network into rural areas of both California and Nevada, ultimately providing more than 11,000 rural locations with Internet at 100 megabits per second. We are excited that this new infrastructure will also reduce the cost of bringing high speed broadband access to anchor institutions such as Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, and Community Colleges. You can expect to see GeoLinks fully close the digital divide in California in these areas in the next 2-3 years with the help of our corporate partner the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). From the beginning it was expected to see the incumbent providers take home big portions of the total fund. However, I am absolutely thrilled that our company, a mid-sized ISP with true rural beginnings, was able to secure the largest grant in CA and be in the top 5 nationally. Not only does this secure a bright future for the rural communities we will service, but it also allows our company to have a secure future and bring more jobs into our local economy.”

As stated by Chairman Ajit Pai in the FCC’s formal release, the successful conclusion of this first-of-its kind auction is great news for the residents of these rural communities, who will finally be able to share in the 21st-century digital opportunities that broadband provides. By tapping the mechanisms of the marketplace, the CAF II auction served as the most appropriate and cost-effective way to allocate funding for broadband in these unserved communities, bringing the highest-quality broadband services to the most consumers at the lowest cost to the ratepayer.

“As part of its efforts to promote ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans, the FCC created the CAF II auction to enable Internet service providers to build and maintain infrastructure in unserved areas throughout the US,” commented GeoLinks’ General Counsel and VP of Government Affairs and Education Melissa Slawson. “I am elated to see that a capable company of our size was granted substantial funding to further propel our mission connect rural California, Nevada, and beyond.”

More information is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/903. A map of winning bids is available at https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/caf2-auction903-results/

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Olson at [email protected].

GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is the Fastest Growing Telecom in California and a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally awarded for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked in both 2017 and 2018 as one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America on the Inc. 5000, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

More about Connect America Fund Phase II Auction:

A total of 103 providers ultimately won support in the CAF II auction to expand broadband across 45 states. The funding, which will be distributed over the next 10 years, will connect 53% of all rural homes and businesses with broadband download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. 19% will have gigabit service available. And 711,389 locations—all but 0.25%—will have at least 25 Mbps service available.

Contacts

GeoLinks
Lexie Olson, [email protected]

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Broadband Technologies for Rural America – Infographic

Advantages and Disadvantages of Broadband Technologies for Rural America

Infographic by GeoLinks

 

BroadbandTechnologiesforRuralAmerica_GeoLinks

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Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide

Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide

POST WRITTEN BY Skyler Ditchfield

CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing WISP in America named 2018 “Most Disruptive Technology” for its ClearFiber™ Network.

Shutterstock

If you were to google “how to close the digital divide,” you would not come up empty-handed. As a quick precursor, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, the digital divide refers to the inequalities in finances, education and social status faced by those without computers and access to the internet versus those who do. Because having equal access to digital technology is at the core of the divide, broadband availability, or the lack thereof, has become a highly publicized and debated topic between politicians and telecommunications companies (telcos) alike. Nevertheless, the divide still remains and arguably will continue to remain unless the following five steps are taken.

Step 1: Redirect Federal Funding Distribution

The federal government has allocated and continues to allocate ample funding toward closing the digital divide. Consequently, over the past 20 years, we’ve been able to raise broadband standards considerably, at least in urban and suburban markets. Unfortunately, however, the majority of these funds are awarded to major telcos and incumbent providers, and without a guaranteed long-term revenue case in rural America, they have minimal incentive to invest in new infrastructure or to improve current infrastructure. While this may make sense for their personal bottom lines, it does not benefit the American public. So, if large telcos can’t or won’t service rural America, who will?

First, if you have an option to buy from a small local provider, do so — you will consequently be supporting your local economy. However, the problem with totally relying on the little guys is that they are, in fact, the little guys, and often don’t have access to or the power to access the spectrum of state-of-the-art equipment or fiber assets that enable other providers to offer competitive, cost-effective and high-bandwidth solutions.

Another option is the middle road between mom-and-pop and the incumbent providers — the mid-sized internet service provider. As it currently stands, mid-sized ISPs do not have the financial resources of big telcos to build out low-cost products with long return on investment, thus making them less competitive for consumers. However, if granted adequate funding to build out infrastructure, these mid-sized telcos have the opportunity to give the mega-ISPs true competition, ultimately keeping the market honest, fair and favored toward the public’s best interest.

Step 2: Open The Airwaves, Fairly 

As it currently stands, today’s major cellular companies hold the vast majority of wireless spectrum allotted by the FCC to resolve the digital divide. These services, while important, do not currently deliver the entire bandwidth necessary to meet the needs of all unconnected Americans. However, the United States still has ample wireless spectrum available. If the FCC and Capitol Hill can appropriate these assets to companies that truly support the public’s best interest, and said companies utilize and deploy intelligently, the utopian idea of one day delivering one-gigabit speeds to every home in America is possible. 

Step 3: Implement A True Accountability Structure

On February 12, 2018, the White House released the Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. The outline, which acknowledges the horrific state of the nation’s current infrastructure, demonstrates the new administration’s framework, meant to build a better future for all Americans. To its credit, there is a handful of positive action items presented in the outline. From empowering individual state decision-making, to establishing true accountability structures, to expediting and streamlining overall permitting and federal agency processes, at its core, the outline perceivably serves in the general best interest of the American public.

However, it can also be argued that there are inherent and massive flaws in the outline that will ultimately prevent these goals from reaching fruition. For example, past the inadequate division of funding, there is not a clear timeline of when all legislation changes must take effect. Therefore, even though once these changes are enacted there is a 24-month timeline, there isn’t a clear delineation of an official launch date. To paint an extreme example, this outline could have us all sitting here in five or 10 years still spewing on initiatives that could be and could make a better future. Thus, the administration needs to follow up its outline with immediate deadlines in order to formalize proposed accountability structures.

Step 4: Expedite The Use Of Federal Lands

As touched upon above, the idea of expediting processes has been proposed. However, even if we could ensure grant winners would build out as planned, the fact remains that 28% of the U.S. is federally owned, and many of these sites are in areas we need to get through or use for broadcast areas. It’s imperative we support operators’ build times by expediting permitting the use of federal lands sooner than later, and preferably now.

Step 5: Adopt A Technology-Agnostic Hybrid Approach 

While states and communities across the country continue to request fiber optic networks, the reality is that building out fiber infrastructure to every location in America is both cost- and time-prohibitive. Therefore, fiber is not the complete solution if we’re aiming to close the divide in a timely manner. The solution, rather, lies in adapting and building out technology-agnostic hybrid networks. From fiber, to fixed wireless, to 4G and 5G LTE, all of these technologies have their time and place in closing the divide. While there are pros and cons to each method, when used together, they have the ability to create a complete solution that can deliver gigabit and multi-gigabit bandwidth to both urban and ultra-rural communities.

So, If We Know How, Why Is There Still A Divide?

The answer is simple: lack of action. We know the course; now we need to implement. Therefore, to all of those reading this who feel inspired or compelled to truly take part in closing the divide, reach out to your local and state municipalities, and demand action.

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Internet for All in California: Overcoming Challenges and Creating Solutions

Internet for All in California: Overcoming Challenges and Creating Solutions

 · K-12LIBRARIESPRIVATE SECTOR
REGIONS: CALIFORNIA

Article written by CENIC

Across the globe, the digital divide is an issue of growing severity. California is no exception. Though it contains the networking world’s epicenter of innovation, large portions of California are left without adequate connectivity. “We have tremendous complexity in California around who does and doesn’t have access to broadband Internet,” said Louis Fox, president and CEO of CENIC. “Urban areas are generally well connected, but California is also a very rural state with sparsely populated areas distributed across a vast and complex geography.”

The 2017 California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) Annual Survey revealed that only 69% of California households have connectivity through computing devices, which are crucial in terms of finding and applying for jobs, as well as enrolling in classes and doing school work. Computer costs and technical know-how are barriers for many of these households. However lack of broadband infrastructure is also significant: 19% report that Internet service is not available where they live.

Californians without Internet access felt disadvantaged in many of the same areas; 38% felt hampered in their opportunity to gain career skills and take classes, while another 38% lamented their inability to get health and medical information.

To overcome this digital divide, leaders in the public and private sectors are banding together to bring reliable, affordable Internet access to underserved communities. At the CENIC annual conference in March, panelists identified the issues and obstacles that stand in the way of connectivity, and discussed the ways in which they are each working to close the digital divide and provide Internet for all in California.

“The challenge in California right now is not small,” said Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO of CETF, a nonprofit established with the express purpose of closing the digital divide. “Our geology makes trying to build anything incredibly complex. Then, add on top of that the diversity of our populations, the complexity of our politics, and the fact that we’re trying to do something that nobody in power is supporting.”

Lack of support may very well stem from lack of awareness. Kim Lewis, CENIC’s legislative advocate, is on a mission to educate the networking world about the plight of underserved communities, which often get left behind, leading to an even greater divide between the haves and have-nots. “The infrastructure in the ground is lacking, and in many areas it’s missing altogether,” said Lewis. “What are our community members going to do when they go home after working all day and their kids don’t have the access they need to do homework?”

In addition to political and geographical barriers, efforts to establish connectivity suffer from under-funding. “The problem is money,” said Rachelle Chong, principal of the Law Offices of Rachelle Chong in San Francisco and former FCC commissioner. “There is inadequate money being spent on broadband infrastructure in the rural and tribal, and sometimes, even suburban areas of California.”

California residents also face connectivity challenges from the private sector. Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic, a facilities-based backhaul and Internet access company, and Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, a fixed-wireless Internet and telecom provider, are two innovators attempting to disrupt the Internet connectivity market. “Most American households have two choices for broadband, and tend to only have one or zero when it comes to fast access in the range of 50 to 100 megabits per second,” said Jasper. Ditchfield noted that some provided connectivity packages don’t actually supply adequate connectivity. “A cellular connection — 4G or 5G — to the home is not going to solve the problem of connectivity,” he said. “It’s better than nothing, but it’s not going to give our kids the capability of accessing the online learning resources they need.”

Fortunately, connectivity champions like these panelists are carving out new pathways for underserved communities. Thanks to legislative advocacy from people like McPeak, Chong, and Ditchfield, new initiatives are being considered and put in motion. “The [California Public Utilities Commission] has just put out a rule-making to give out a $20 million grant for digital literacy in California,” said Chong. “Essentially, if you’re a school, a public library, or a community-based organization, like a local government or nonprofit organization, you can apply for a grant from the CPUC to do two things: gain either digital literacy programs or public access to computers.” (Learn more about two grant opportunities for community-based organizations and apply with CETF between July 17 and to July 27.)

Each member of the panel spoke passionately about getting the rest of California connected to the digital world. “To me, the Internet is the great equalizer,” said Ditchfield. “It allows you, no matter where you are, to learn at your own pace, to learn what you want to learn, and to go out there and research and make something of yourself, whether that’s creating jobs, educating yourself, or taking care of your own medical issues. It should almost be a basic human right.”

All expressed their eagerness to continue their efforts within the CENIC community, hoping to draw on CENIC’s resources and plethora of connections. “CENIC has been a great partner,” said McPeak. “In fostering a culture of collaboration and digital inclusion, CENIC has been a pioneer. You have provided a pathway and been a trailblazer in collaboration.”

It is CENIC’s ongoing goal to bring quality, high-speed broadband service to all research and education communities. We at CENIC look forward to forming new relationships and fostering existing ones to establish Internet access for all in California. (#Net4AllNow)

For Further Reading

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GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, Accepted into Forbes Los Angeles Business Council

GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, Accepted into Forbes Los Angeles Business Council

Forbes Los Angeles Business Council Is an Invitation-Only Community for Small Business Owners in Greater Los Angeles

 

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks—California’s fastest growing telecom nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions, has been accepted into the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for small business owners in Greater Los Angeles.

Ditchfield joins other Forbes Los Angeles Business Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com.

“I am thrilled to join Forbes’ esteemed group of industry thought-leaders and disrupters,” said Ditchfield. “GeoLinks was founded in 2011 out of my weight room in rural Ojai, California. Over the past seven years, we’ve aggressively climbed our way to become California’s fastest growing telecom, and the fastest growing WISP in America. Our accelerated success is largely due to our flagship product ClearFiber™ which was recently named ‘Most Disruptive Technology’ in the Central Coast Innovation Awards. Accolades aside, my team and I are passionate about closing the United States’ digital divide. I’m personally determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. By joining the Forbes Council, I hope to educate council members and Forbes’ readership not only about the telecom industry as a whole, but about the current state of broadband availability and policy across the United States.”

Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Skyler Ditchfield into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Olson at lolson(at)geolinks.com.

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About Forbes Councils
Forbes partnered with the founders of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to launch Forbes Councils, invitation-only communities for world-class business professionals in a variety of industries. Members, who are hand-selected by each Council’s community team, receive personalized introductions to each other based on their specific needs and gain access to a wide range of business benefits and services, including best-in-class concierge teams, personalized connections, peer-to-peer learning, a business services marketplace, and the opportunity to share thought leadership content on Forbes.com. For more information about Forbes Los Angeles Business Council, visit forbeslacouncil.com. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.

About GeoLinks
Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions. Ranked No. 5 by category on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Hosted Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

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Broadband Technologies for Rural America

Broadband Technologies for Rural America

Presented by Skyler Ditchfield

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Broadband Technologies for Rural America Presented by GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, at CENIC’s 2018 Annual Conference.

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SHLB to Release Cost Estimate and Broadband Strategy to Connect Rural America

SHLB Coalition to Release Cost Estimate and Broadband Strategy to Connect Rural America

CONTACT:
Amy Robinson, [email protected], (202) 261-6599

SHLB (SCHOOLS, HEALTH & LIBRARIES BROADBAND COALITION) PRESS CALL

REGISTER HERE

 

“Anchor institutions are key to solving the rural broadband gap.”

Washington, D.C. – (Monday, February 12th) – The SHLB Coalition (Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition) will release on Thursday a holistic broadband strategy to close the digital divide in rural markets. Particularly timely following the release of the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal earlier today, SHLB’s rural broadband strategy will focus on deploying high-capacity broadband “to and through anchors” to the surrounding community through wireless and wireline technologies, a strategy that could solve the digital divide for millions of rural Americans.

SHLB will hold a conference call with reporters THURSDAY, February 15th, at 11:00 am ET.

On the call, SHLB will release a new paper from CTC Technology & Energy that estimates the cost to connect all remaining anchors to fiber.  SHLB will also outline its strategy to connect rural America with a mix of fiber, fixed wireless, and TV WhiteSpace (TVWS), and present specific policy recommendations for the Trump Administration and Congress. The call will feature prominent voices representing anchor institutions as well as wireless advocates and commercial providers.

Speakers will include:

  • John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director, SHLB Coalition
  • Joanne Hovis, President, and Andrew Afflerbach, CEO & Director of Engineering, CTC Technology
  • Jim Hermes, Associate Vice President, Government Relations, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
  • Melissa Slawson, General Counsel and Vice President of Government Affairs and Education, GeoLinks
  • Don Means, Executive Director, Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN)
  • Richard Cullen, Executive Director, Connect Americans Now

WHO: SHLB’s Broadband Industry Experts and Anchors

WHAT: Press Call to review New Cost Estimate and Rural Broadband Strategy

WHEN: Thursday, February 15, 2018, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET

WHERE: Phone Line Number: (202) 847-5889 (No PIN Required)

Register for the press call to receive an advance copy of the press release, cost estimate report, and rural broadband strategy.

 

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About SHLB:

The SHLB Coalition is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-capacity broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, DC and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations that support our mission from across the United States.

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Rural Service is Key to Bridging the Digital Divide

Rural Service is Key to Bridging the Digital Divide

Working with municipal stakeholders cuts costs, increases speed of rural deployments of the more than 30 million people in the United States without access to the internet, some 6 million of them are students, Skyler Dithfield, CEO of service provider Geolinks, told RCR Wireless News during the recent TC3 conference.

“I grew up with no internet in a rural area myself,” he explained. Once he was connected, access changed the way he approached his own educational experience. Years later, Ditchfield read an article about dozens of k-12 schools that were unconnected, had grant funding to fix the problem, “but no service providers stepped forward. We can do this,” he told himself.

Now Geolinks is one of the fastest-growing telecom companies in the country, according to the Inc. 5000 index. Specializing in rural connectivity, Geolinks provides service in Southern California and parts of Arizona.

In terms of deployment models, Ditchfield explained the benefits of working with government stakeholders to arrive at a cost-effective strategy with an emphasis on speed. “We’ve been working with schools, health care, libraries…how do we bring these different funding silos together?” By working with a cross-section of stakeholders, Geolinks arrived at a model where municipal assets can be leveraged to deploy “in one fell swoop. Right now it’s done on a bid-by-bid basis with all these different funding silos. It’s not cost effective to build the network in increments like that. We can come in and build the entire network, do it for a fraction of the cost, and much, much quicker.”

This is accomplished with a mixture of fiber and fixed wireless, including iterations like using TV white space—something being pushed by Microsoft. “It’s going to be conjoining those networks in the proper design and topology depending on the terrain, the density of housing, etc…to get not only a cost effective deployment, but also rapid.

So why is speed of deployment important? “We’ve got to get it done sooner rather than later. Every three or four years, we’re missing a generation of kids. The internet is going to give that opportunity to be the next great innovator. Think of all the advantages that’s going to bring to those people. We don’t lose a whole generation of children who miss out.”

To hear more from Geolinks, including the role of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in delivering rural coverage, as well as the company’s focus on delivering multi-gigabit speeds using millimeter wave spectrum, check out this video interview.

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How GeoLinks’ Flagship Product ClearFiber™ is Closing the Rural Broadband Gap AND Connecting Urban America

How GeoLinks’ Flagship Product ClearFiber™ is Closing the Rural Broadband Gap AND Connecting Urban America

Every Fall communication industry executives from around the world travel to Silicon Valley to attend the Telecom Councils’ TC3 Summit—a 2-day, working summit where companies who build communications networks come to discover innovation. This year’s title sponsor was GeoLinks, a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions.

With the topic of “connectivity” taking precedence on this year’s agenda, GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfieldtook to the main stage on day 1 in an address titled “Closing the Rural Broadband Gap.” Beginning by providing an overview of GeoLinks’ success in deploying high-speed broadband to businesses and anchor institutions nation-wide, Ditchfield discussed how closing the digital divide will ultimately require implementing a hybrid network that utilizes fixed wireless to deliver the last mile.

Audience members were particularly intrigued with Ditchfield’s innovative case studies surrounding GeoLinks’ fixed wireless product ClearFiber™, many declaring GeoLinks to be “the most impressive start-up to present at the summit.” Operating 100% in-house, Ditchfield explained how ClearFiber™ can deploy rapidly and produce low-latency, gigabit plus speeds at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

However, summit attendees also learned that GeoLinks is doing much more than just connecting rural communities with high-speed broadband. The telecom also has a growing footprint in the urban and sub-urban landscapes, giving larger carriers a true run for their money.

“It’s time for the public to know that there is another realistic option in the market apart from the big 4 carriers,” expressed Ditchfield. “GeoLinks provides enterprise-grade Internet and Hosted Voice solutions backed by round-the-clock, U.S. based customer support and an industry leading Service Level Agreement. In-house we have coined this ‘The GeoLinks Difference’—it’s our golden rule to treat you like we want to be treated. That, paired with our exceptional products and service offerings, has quickly led us to become the fifth fastest growing privately-owned telecom in America.”

Following his address at the summit, RCR Wireless Editor, Sean Kinney, sat down with Ditchfield to dig even deeper into all that GeoLinks has done, is doing, and plans to accomplish in the very near future in both the rural, urban and sub-urban landscapes. You can view the entire interview by tuning in to the below video.

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