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Get to know GeoLinks’ General Counsel and VP of Government Affairs and Education Melissa Slawson

Melissa Slawson - GeoLinks

1. Let’s start with the basics, what’s your role at GeoLinks?

My official title is General Counsel and V.P. of Government Affairs and Education. I handle all legal and regulatory matters, which includes tracking policies and legislation that may affect GeoLinks’ business and advocating for GeoLinks’ interests before various regulatory bodies (including the FCC). In short…I’m the lawyer, and I make sure we follow rules and the rules work for us.

2. What’s your favorite part about working for GeoLinks?

I love how fast-paced everything is. There’s never time to get bogged down in the weeds of an issue because a decision usually has to be made quickly. It has made me good at thinking on my feet, researching issues efficiently, and trusting my experience.

Melissa Slawson - GeoLinks - Jerry Brown3. What got you to the position you are in today…what came before GeoLinks?

I’ve been practicing law in the telecommunications regulatory space for over 11 years (wow…that sounds so long when you type it out). I started at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as a regulator, then entered private practice at a law firm specializing in regulatory work for a variety of telecommunications companies (cable, wireline, wireless, etc.), and then was GC for a small wireless company. The breadth of my legal experience and seeing the telecom world from multiple perspectives really prepared me for my role at GeoLinks. I understand the business side but also understand how regulators and lawmakers see the industry. That’s invaluable when trying to traverse the sometimes rocky legal landscape of providing telecom services.   

4. What government related project are you most passionate about?

I have always tried to make sure that the work I do is also doing good. I started my career as a public servant and while I have moved to the private sector, there is still good to be done. Specifically, I am passionate about connectivity for all. All people, rich or poor, urban or rural, etc. etc. etc. should have access to telecommunications services. This is an issue that I have worked on in some capacity throughout my entire career, and I am so happy to be working for a company with a founding mission to close the digital divide.  

5. Outside of work…what is your favorite pastime or hobby?

Melissa Slawson - geolinks

I started taking Improv classes last May and have started performing fairly regularly. Otherwise, I spend my non-work time doing crossfit, spending time with friends and my dog, Logan, cooking…and watching TV. I love TV.  

6. What’s something most of your coworkers don’t know about you?

I’ve never had a cavity. Thanks, Mom!

7. Alright pressure is on….give us your best or favorite motivational quote?

“Wherever you go, there you are.”  It’s a simple statement and really, quite painfully obvious, but I take its meaning to be pretty deep. Wherever you go in this world, no matter who you meet, what job you are doing, etc., you are still you. It is a constant. It is a center. And if things get hard or weird, you can fall back on knowing who you are and move forward from there. And by the same token, it means to be true to yourself, your beliefs, and your values no matter how the world around you changes. I strive to be me all the time.

8. You are allowed to do anything you want, anywhere in the world, for one whole day…what do you do and where do you go?

Be a rockstar.  I want a full sleeve of tattoos, crazy hair, and to sing in front of a stadium full of screaming fans. Sounds amazing!!!

9. Congratulations on recently being elected onto the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition’s (SHLB) Board of Expert Advisors. So, what exactly is SHLB and how do you contribute?

I’m excited about being part of the SHLB Board. SHLB is doing some amazing work to close the digital divide by connecting anchor institutions (schools, libraries, hospitals, etc.) which are cornerstones of so many communities. It’s just another piece of the puzzle that is getting connectivity to all Americans. Being part of the board means helping shape the path that SHLB will forge in its efforts over the next few years. It also means having direct input into how companies can help (and be incentivized to help) SHLB’s mission.

Melissa Slawson - GeoLinks - SHLB

10. What’s next…what are you most excited for when you think of your future with GeoLinks?

With our recent Connect America Fund award, all of the work we’re doing to connect anchor institutions, and other opportunities we’re engaged in to help connectivity in California, I am so excited to see how GeoLinks can help change the digital landscape in California and beyond. In just a few short years, GeoLinks will be providing high speed broadband services to areas that may have otherwise never had more than dial-up speeds. (If that!) We are doing good while being successful in business. THAT is my American dream.

Round Up – Industry Experts share their 2019 Telecom Predictions

From the emergence of fixed wireless and hybrid networks, to the predictive realities of 5G, telecom experts share their 2019 industry forecasts.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article do not represent nor do they imply endorsement of my personal views or my employer’s views and opinions. They are unique and independent to the individual contributors listed as the statement’s source.

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From the roll out of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrations, to the highly anticipated future of 5G, in 2018 we saw the telecommunications industry generate some pretty innovative trends and thought-provoking headlines. With the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d turn to a variety of diverse industry experts to learn about their 2019 telecom predictions. Here is what they had to say:

There will be a lot of providers deploying 5G, but monetization will prove a challenge

Nathan Rader, Director of NFV Strategy, Canonical

There will be a race to see who can market 5G the quickest and who will have it as standard first. We’re already seeing tests from multiple providers across the world in isolated areas, and the speed and size of rollouts will only increase as providers look to gain the upper hand.

However, this race could be a costly one. Consumer need for 5G isn’t as great as it was for previous generations. 4G can handle most consumer use cases (such as streaming, gaming, browsing etc.) fairly comfortably with reasonable speed.

5G’s main benefit is providing increased capacity, not speed and latency, making it more of a technical development. Being the first 5G standard network will be a marketing coup, but may not come with the consumer kudos and demand it once did.

Further widespread adoption of Fixed Wireless

Phillip Deneef, Chief Strategy Officer, GeoLinks

We’ve seen fixed wireless technology evolve and improve drastically over the last decade, concurrently beginning to debunk “wireless anxiety”. During the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) CAF II Auction in 2018, we saw federal acceptance and adoption through the distribution of significant funding to WISPs, such as GeoLinks. This culminates to my prediction that in 2019 I believe we will see a drastic spike in both businesses and community anchors being connected via fixed wireless. While I do think fiber will still remain top of mind for many key stakeholders, I foresee anchors, rural health care facilities as a specific example, better understanding that EoFW is the most cost effective and time efficient way to get these critical care facilities the speeds they need. Taking guidance from both the FCC and overall industry adoption, on a state level I predict that those governing RFP fund distributions will also be more open to fixed wireless solutions. This will directly result in the United States making substantial strides in closing the digital divide.

Competition in Hosted VoIP market will heat up

Marc Enzor, VoIP Consultant & President, Geeks 2 You

Hosted VoIP phone systems are the hottest thing right now in telecom. Even the SMB and Medium size businesses are starting to become aware of what it is, and to gravitate towards it. In years past, we would spend most of our sales pitch educating customers as to what it is, how it works, and why they should use it. In recent months, customers already are aware and ready to purchase immediately. The sales cycle went from multiple meetings to single meetings now. It has become one of the hottest products we sell.

Going into 2019, it’ll only become even more “standard knowledge”, which means the competition in the hosted VoIP market will heat up. I predict several of the biggest names will start to buy the competition out and a true industry leader will emerge. This will have to happen as the top companies now will start to rely on their current growth models and will need to find ways to replace the lost growth as competition gets bigger.

Only edge computing / edge networking and AI will show true growth

Alan J Weissberger, ScD EE, IEEE Communications Society, techblog.comsoc.org

Only two areas in the telecom/networking space deserve the attention they are getting: 1] edge computing/edge networking and 2] Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Edge computing/edge networking is needed to off load the processing that takes place in cloud resident data center computers and also to reduce latency for critical real time control applications (especially for IoT).

AI and deep learning will be embedded into software-defined architectures in telco networks and the cloud to do analytics, predict failures, and move a lot of the human manual processes into automated operations. The long-term goal is to move from automated elements to closed loop automation and finally to autonomous control of networks.  I believe AI will be critically important to progress emerging telecom services and enabling new ones.  Examples include: 5G, Industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, etc.  It will be also very useful for more mundane things, like keeping up with WAN and Internet bandwidth demands due to increased video streaming by cord cutters and pay TV customers (like this author) that increasingly stream sporting events (e.g. MLB TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, boxing, etc).

All the other new technologies are hyped to the infinity power and headed for a train wreck.  That’s especially true of 5G, but also includes “Software Defined” networks (SDN and SD-WAN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and LPWANs for the Internet of Things (IoT).  All those suffer from the lack of inter-operability which is due to either the lack of standards, too many specs/standards (LPWANs) or proprietary implementations (e.g. SDN from AT&T, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc are not interoperable with each other. They each use different specs, with many being proprietary while others are based on open source software).  None of them will make much money for any company in the coming year.  Perhaps a few SD-WAN start-ups will be acquired and investors in those companies will profit, but that’s about it.

Enterprises cut the cord with LTE

Hansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed

For enterprises, 2019 isn’t a forecast of all doom and gloom. The year will also bring freedom from the persistent “last-mile” telecommunications problem. With the advancements in LTE, the technology will finally reach a point where the physical cables that connect end-users to their Internet Service Providers will no longer be a necessity — or a handcuff to a particular ISP.

The “last-mile” problem has long been the most critical and most costly component of an ISP’s network, as well a speed bottleneck. But now, on the heels of widespread adoption, LTE will allow enterprises to forego the last mile of physical cable for a reliable and robust connection.

Purpose-built Security Software will emerge

Don Boxley, Co-Founder and CEO, DH2i

Making smart products, IoT devices, is the new product differentiator — today, even ovens have IP addresses. Companies that have been investing in IoT initiatives understand that the IoT gateway layer is the key that unlocks a high return on those IoT investments. IoT gateways manage device connectivity, protocol translation, updating, management, predictive and streaming data analytics, and data flow between devices and the cloud. Improving the security of that high data flow with a Zero Trust security model will drive enterprises to replace VPNs with micro-perimeters. Micro-perimeters remove an IoT device’s network presence eliminating any potential attack surfaces created by using a VPN.

Likewise, many organizations are pursuing a hybrid strategy involving integrated on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources. But traditional VPN software solutions are obsolete for the new IT reality of hybrid and multi-cloud. They weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure, and they give users a “slice of the network,” creating a lateral network attack surface. A new class of purpose-built security software will emerge to eliminate these issues and disrupt the cloud VPN market. This new security software will enable organizations to build lightweight dynamic micro-perimeters to secure application- and workload-centric connections between on-premises and cloud/hosted environments, with virtually no attack surface.

Hybrid Networks become more common

Louis Fox, CEO & President, CENIC

In terms of widespread internet connectivity, the low-hanging fruit has long been picked. To achieve a complete mesh across the state, and thereby to include all of our communities and lift all boats, private-sector technology companies will need to work more collaboratively with government and nonprofit community organizations to approach an underserved geographic region with a comprehensive strategy that stitches together fiber, fixed wireless, unlicensed spectrum, TV whitespace, and more. We can no longer deploy in a series of one-offs if we are ever to serve some of the hardest to reach places.

More Internet Networks deploying IPv6

John Curran, President and CEO, ARIN

The Internet has grown remarkably over the past few years and as a result we now have over four billion people online. The Internet will continue to grow at a remarkable pace to meet the requirements of broadband, mobile, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) growth, and this will only increase pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy the next version of the Internet Protocol (IP version 6, or IPv6) — just as many broadband and mobile providers have already done today. The good news is that the IPv6 transition happens in the “lower layers” of the Internet, so this behind-the-scenes upgrade to the Internet will continue to happen without any noticeable change for Internet users.

Public and Private Clouds will be much more accommodating of each other

Jai Menon, Chief Scientist and IBM Fellow, Cloudistics

[In 2019] only about 5 viable general-purpose public cloud vendors will survive. This is because successful public cloud vendors will need to spend a lot of money, and few can afford to spend as much as the Top 2 — AWS and Microsoft Azure. [Furthermore] Public and private clouds will be much more accommodating of each other. More and more of the services provided by a public cloud vendor, such as their AI services, will become accessible to apps running elsewhere, including on private clouds. At the same time, there will be more and more examples of private cloud capabilities extended to the public cloud — such as VMware Cloud on AWS. Finally, federated orchestration and management of workloads across private and public clouds, all from a single, easy to use, portal will be commonplace.

Political turbulence and possible decrease in network investment

John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

2019 could be a turbulent year in the telecom/broadband space. If the FCC approves the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger, and if the court allows the AT&T-Time Warner merger, that could encourage even more consolidation in the marketplace. Of course, more consolidation among big players also opens up more opportunities for smaller, more nimble players to increase their market share. But there are increasing signals of an economic slow-down in 2019, which could mean belt-tightening and reduced investment by all players. The tariffs on Chinese-made equipment could mean increased prices for telecom gear, which could also lead to a pause in network investment. These trends may give a boost to the idea of a grand broadband infrastructure spending bill that both the President and Hill Democrats are trying to get in front of (assuming the government shutdown does not ruin the chances of bipartisan agreement forever.) Such legislation would only have a 30% chance of enactment but could be exciting to watch, as there are so many industry players that could benefit from government funding, especially in rural markets. I expect net neutrality to continue to percolate because the court is likely to remand the case to give the FCC another chance to justify its decision. Congress could and should step in, but there is no sign of compromise on the issue and likely will remain gridlocked. For anchor institutions, work will continue to get the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs running smoothly, but I do not anticipate major structural changes.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the above predictions? If so, feel free to visit the original article here, and leave a comment.

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”.

SHLB Coalition Announces 5 New Board Members

Original Source SHLB.org

Washington, D.C. (December 5, 2018) – Today the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition announced five additions to its board of directors for 2019:

  • Cindy Aden, state librarian, State of Washington;
  • Erik Heinrich, senior manager SLED business development, Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS Company;
  • Tim Koxlien, CEO, Telequality Communications;
  • Ray Timothy, CEO and executive director, Utah Education & Telehealth Network; and
  • Melissa Slawson, general counsel and VP of government affairs and education, GeoLinks.

“These individuals and their organizations are dedicated to achieving digital equity through connecting community anchor institutions (CAIs),” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition, “Their passion and diverse areas of expertise will make SHLB’s advocacy for CAI broadband connectivity even stronger.”

The current SHLB board of directors appointed Aden, Heinrich, Koxlien, and Timothy, while SHLB’s membership elected Slawson to serve. The incoming members, who begin their three-year terms on the board on January 1, 2019, made the following statements:

“As the State Librarian for Washington State, I am eager to get more involved in the nuts and bolts of broadband and e-rate issues, as my state readies itself for significant broadband legislation that will include the State Library as one of the stakeholders. I am honored to follow the work of my esteemed colleague, the Montana State Librarian Jennie Stapp, and I look forward to working with the SHLB board.” – Cindy Aden, State Librarian, Washington State.

“As a research and education network, we have found SHLB to be a great resource for our organization as we strive to network for education and telehealth in Utah. I am excited to be on the board so that we can share our experiences and strengths with others throughout the country.” – Ray Timothy, Utah Education & Telehealth Network

“SHLB is the only voice representing the common broadband interests of community anchor institutions, local and state government entities and service providers. Under John Windhausen’s leadership, our members receive the benefit of a well respected, hard working and dedicated organization. I am grateful to be a part of the work that SHLB does in helping to solve broadband problems throughout the US.” – Tim Koxlien, Telequality Communications.

“I am honored to join SHLB in raising awareness around the challenges of Digital Equity and advocating for solutions to the disparity in online access among our Nation’s diverse populations of students, teachers and their communities. SHLB’s mission is closely aligned with this very issue and I look forward to fulfilling a role as a member of the SHLB board of directors while working closely with the SHLB member community to help close the digital divide.” – Erik Heinrich, Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS Company.

“I am excited and honored to have been chosen as the newest member of the SHLB Board of Directors. Universal broadband access has always been a personal passion of mine and I look forward to representing GeoLinks as I work with SHLB and my fellow Board members to bring more awareness to the issue and create policies that help bridge the digital divide.” – Melissa Slawson, GeoLinks.

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About SHLB:

The SHLB Coalition is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality 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 from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Alicja Johnson
[email protected]
(202) 261-6599

Spectrum as Infrastructure – Connecting Rural and Underserved Areas

Spectrum as Infrastructure – Connecting Rural and Underserved Areas

Panel discussion at the 8th Annual SHLB Conference.

Panel Description: More than 15 million Americans in rural and tribal areas still lack access to 25/3 broadband, and a disproportionate number of rural schools and libraries lack high-capacity broadband connections. Wireless services may provide cost-effective solutions to address this rural broadband gap. Fixed wireless access can provide broadband at high capacity (100/10 Mbps or better), or over long distances to remote locations, at a fraction of the cost of trenching fiber. This panel will describe three pending FCC rulemakings that could open access to a large new supply of both unlicensed and lightly-licensed shared spectrum.

Featured Speakers in Highlights: Melissa Slawson (GeoLinks) Andrew Clegg (Google), Moderator: Michael Calabrese (New America OTI)

The SHLB Coalition Applauds the FCC’s “Connected Care” Proposal

The SHLB Coalition Applauds the FCC’s “Connected Care” Proposal

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Alicja Johnson
[email protected]
(202) 261-6599

Washington, DC (August 2, 2018) – The Federal Communications Commission voted today to explore creating a $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program,” which aims to bring telehealth to low-income Americans. The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition applauds the FCC’s leadership in proposing to expand telemedicine access to those who need it most.

The following statement can be attributed to John Windhausen Jr., Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition:

“The idea of connected care is still in its infancy, yet it has enormous potential to help people across rural America – veterans and low-income patients in particular. That is why the SHLB Coalition called upon the FCC to provide a discount for the wireless broadband costs of providing remote home monitoring in our 2015 Petition for Rulemaking.  The Connected Care Pilot Program could provide a unique opportunity for the FCC to collaborate with broadband providers, healthcare providers and other government agencies to ensure that low-income consumers and rural communities have low-cost, high-quality telemedicine services.  The SHLB Coalition and its members look forward to working with the FCC to build up this program.”

Visit http://www.shlb.org/policy/Rural-Health-Care to learn more about SHLB’s advocacy to improve our nation’s telehealth.

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About The SHLB Coalition:

The SHLB Coalition is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality 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 from across the United States.  To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.

SHLB Commends FCC Chairman Pai’s Intention to Increase Rural Health Care Funding

SHLB Commends FCC Chairman Pai’s Intention to Increase Rural Health Care Funding

June 06, 2018

For Immediate Release:
June 6, 2018

Contact:
Amy Robinson
Communications Manager, SHLB Coalition
[email protected]
(202) 261-6599

 

Washington, DC (June 6, 2018) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai circulated today a draft order to raise the cap of the Rural Health Care (RHC) program from $400 million to $571 million to reflect inflation over the past twenty years. The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition,  a broad-based membership organization that includes health providers and telehealth networks, has been advocating for RHC funding and reform since December of 2015 and commends the Chairman’s announcement in favor of more funding.

The following statement can be attributed to John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director of SHLB:

“The SHLB Coalition is extremely pleased with Chairman Pai’s intention to increase funding for the Rural Health Care program. This increase is long overdue, as the $400 M cap on the RHC program has remained set in stone for over twenty years. This proposal also addresses our concerns about the retroactive funding reductions for FY 2017 by ensuring that applicants in the current funding year can be fully reimbursed.  This action will avoid the unfortunate 15% to 25% reductions that had been announced for the current funding year. While we have not seen the entire proposal, we are encouraged that Chairman Pai has taken our concerns to heart and is responding to the SHLB Coalition’s Emergency Waiver Petition and the request by 31 US Senators – led by Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven – for more funding for the program.”

The FCC launched a proceeding to reform the RHC program in December of 2017.  In our comments filed with the FCC, the SHLB Coalition estimated that the number of eligible entities has more than doubled since the $400 million cap was set in 1997 and asked for the cap to be raised to $800 M to account for future demand. The SHLB Coalition also filed an Emergency Waiver Petition earlier this year asking the FCC to fully fund applicants for FY2017 and to avoid the retroactive rate increases on services provided as of July 1, 2017. SHLB has pointed out that the $400 M cap does not reflect the enormous changes in the rural health care marketplace, including the closure of scores of rural hospitals, the improvements in telemedicine, the growth of electronic medical records, the doubling of eligible health care providers, and the rural broadband gap.

The SHLB Coalition previously filed comments and reply comments in the FCC’s WC Docket No. 17-310 with the following four main recommendations to reform the Universal Service Fund program: 1) Increase the cap to $800 million to meet the current demand; 2) Encourage the formation of consortia in the Healthcare Connect Fund; 3) Establish funding tiers to ensure funds are distributed to the most rural areas; and 4) Improve administrative  efficiency, transparency, and protection against waste, fraud, and abuse. Visit http://www.shlb.org/policy/Rural-Health-Care to learn more about SHLB’s advocacy to improve our nation’s telehealth.

 

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CENIC Recognizes Corporate Partner GeoLinks for Serving the Research and Education Community in California

LA MIRADA, Calif. & BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CENIC is recognizing GeoLinks, headed by CEO Skyler Ditchfield, with the CENIC 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for Corporate Partnership.

Thanks to the commitment of Ditchfield’s team and their understanding of the importance of high-speed broadband for California research and education communities, and their strategy for reaching those with limited or no broadband access due to remote locations and challenging terrain, CENIC and GeoLinks have been able to move forward on numerous initiatives in support of these underserved communities.

Dozens of projects have been completed, are in progress, or are anticipated that will serve K-12 schools, the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) research sites, and public libraries throughout the state. Previously, a number of these sites were served at speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less. Most now have 50 to 100 times greater speeds as a result of these efforts.

CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox stated, “GeoLinks has become an important ally in our efforts to address broadband-access inequities in California. Together we are hard at work on public policy initiatives that, we hope, will bring more resources to California, and thereby bring the benefits of advanced networking to all Californians at their community anchor institutions – schools, libraries, health care, and research sites. CENIC looks forward to a long collaboration with Skyler and his team to ensure that California remains at the global forefront of innovation in research and education networking.”

Fox added, “As CENIC has historically focused on fiber-network deployments, I was skeptical at first about using fixed wireless, but GeoLinks has demonstrated that they can deliver gigabit speeds with symmetrical services to remote sites that have no access to fiber-optic networks. Even with the significant special construction necessary, they have delivered these services within 9 to 12 months, which is remarkable.”

GeoLinks’ fixed wireless network, ClearFiber™, uses carrier-grade equipment and provides telecom-grade broadband service with the same latency and jitter as fiber. GeoLinks is able to build solar- and wind-powered telecommunications facilities off the grid, resulting in rapid network deployment in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. ClearFiber uses FCC-licensed spectrum with redundancy at every level of hardware deployment.

“We analyze 50 years of regional weather patterns to determine the proper type of antenna, radio frequency output, and broadcast distance to ensure we receive 99.999% uptime on all of our links,” further explained GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “We also use this data to determine how much solar energy is needed for each individual site. As a standard, we engineer our sites to run for 25 days without sunlight to safeguard against extreme weather events. Furthermore, we also build in redundancy at every level, from our power equipment, to our routers, switches, and radios. We are also currently in the early stages of experimenting with wind energy. While solar power is typically low during storms, wind is high on mountain tops and can thus reduce the need for solar panel and battery load, ultimately reducing overall deployment costs.”

Recognized as thought-leaders in closing the digital divide, the GeoLinks leadership team proudly serves on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare and 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.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform how education and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas. The CENIC conference will be held March 5 – 7, 2018, in Monterey, California.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and individuals at other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s public libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, the Naval Postgraduate School, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.

 

SHLB 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.

Have you Heard of GeoLinks? If not, you will soon.

RCRWireless.com

Is it possible to disrupt the “big four” carriers? We say yes. California-based telecom company, GeoLinks, is doing just that, proving that even new players can substantially impact the industry as we know it. In the past six months alone GeoLinks has been asked to sit on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) Working Group, and WISPA’s FCC Advisory Board.

Founded in 2011, much of GeoLinks’ early success can be attributed to its flagship product, ClearFiber™,which provides customers truly redundant fixed wireless broadband. Boasting ultra-low latency, 99.99% uptime, sub 10ms jitter, and a 4-hour max response time, GeoLinks holds the industry’s best Service Level Agreement backed by in-house U.S. based customer support. GeoLinks’ ability to rapidly deploy Hosted Voice, Temporary and Event Circuits, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction has contributed to the company’s accelerated growth.

So, why all the recent recognition?

2017 has been a monumental year for the innovative Internet and Phone provider. From officially earning its status as a competitive local exchange carrier public utility to launching nationally, to building 37 custom towers—the majority solar and wind-powered—GeoLinks’ dedication to making industry advancements has propelled it to become the country’s second fastest-growing privately-owned Internet Provider.

Amongst its many accolades, GeoLinks was also the largest construction grant winner for California K-12 schools and libraries in both 2016 and 2017 enabling it to successfully connect 21 rural anchor institutions, and counting, with high-speed broadband. GeoLinks’ recognized passion and dedication to closing the digital divide has prompted company CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, to be a featured speaker at many high-caliber events including the upcoming 10th Annual TC3 Summit taking place Nov 1-2 in Silicon Valley.

“I recognize the skepticism and wireless anxiety that people have surrounding fixed wireless technology,” says Ditchfield. “People think that the technology is inherently flawed, when that’s just not the case. It is an ongoing challenge for our company to re-educate the market that the problem doesn’t lie in the technology itself. In fact, the technology has been around since the 60’s and is actively utilized by large companies in the New York Stock Exchange and Militaries around the world. The real problem falls with improper installation. That’s why, at GeoLinks, we decided to bring everything in-house. We’re general contractors, and from land procurement, to building the actual towers, to customizing network configurations, our team ensures that the technology is deployed properly. When deployed correctly, ClearFiber™ is the most effective and superior solution available on the market.

So, you’ve never heard of GeoLinks before? You can be assured that the thriving telecom will be a large player in the country’s evolving national broadband discussion in 2018 and beyond.