Connecting US anchor institutions to broadband will cost less than $20 billion, a recent report estimates.
cost study and
related strategy report, developed for the Schools, Health & Library Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, recommends leveraging high-speed broadband deployed to schools, libraries, healthcare providers, community colleges and other so-called anchor institutions, and then extending the service to local businesses and residences via wired and wireless technologies. The estimate includes all states, except Alaska.
Today, at least 19 million people in rural regions of the US still lack access to "adequate broadband," said John Windhausen, Jr., executive director of SHLB Coalition, in a statement.
"Deploying high-capacity broadband to and through community anchor institutions to their communities is a proven and successful strategy," he said. "Anchor institutions serve the public interest and advance our nation's education, health, and economy. In essence, they are the heart of our communities."
Municipal broadband can take this approach. In some cases, cities deploy their own fiber to curtail broadband costs for government agencies, and then provide access to education, non-profit and other organizations. Asheville, N.C., currently is considering how it can leverage or expand the broadband infrastructure deployed for educational facilities, said City of Asheville CIO Jonathan Feldman, in an interview with Broadband World News.
Connecting all unserved anchors in the continental US and Hawaii to fiber would cost between $13 billion and $19 billion, according to the estimate prepared by CTC Technology & Energy for the SHLB Coalition. As a result, 95% of the country's population would be inside the same zip code of an anchor's broadband, CTC said.
To meet regions' varied terrains, economies and population densities, deployments should include a mix of fixed and wireless solutions from a number of providers, SHLB recommended in its report, "To and Through Anchors: A Strategy to Connect Rural Communities." To meet this cost estimate, deployment must be conducted in a "coordinated and timely manner," CTC wrote.
A national strategy, dig-once policies, expansion of education-only programs into communities and ample availability of TV WhiteSpace channels will further reduce costs, CTC reported.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
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