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Rural Providers Have Opportunity for Significant Savings on Broadband Services, Equipment, and Dark Fiber

The Rural Broadband Healthcare Network (RBHN), administered by the Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center (WNY R-AHEC), is a consortium of health care providers (HCP) that works to obtain subsidy on broadband (including dark fiber and redundant circuits), installation, and network equipment costs for consortium members through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Healthcare Connect Fund. Through the fund, eligible HCP may be able to receive up to a 65 percent subsidy on their broadband charges and equipment.

Eligible facilities must be public or not-for-profit and be in a rural location as defined by the FCC. The FCC requires that the consortium maintain a minimum 50 percent rurality, so that the focus is on rural providers. WNY R-AHEC regularly assesses the rurality of the consortium and reserves the right to limit urban facilities.

Eligible facility types include:

  • Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, such as teaching hospitals or medical schools;
  • Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;
  • Local health departments or agencies;
  • Community mental health centers;
  • Not-for-profit hospitals;
  • Rural health clinics;
  • Dedicated emergency rooms of rural for-profit hospitals; and
  • Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

Administrative offices and off-site data centers of eligible facilities may be eligible to receive a subsidy as well.

The process first requires a Letter of Agency (LOA) signed by the HCP, which gives WNY R-AHEC the ability to file forms on the HCP’s behalf.

WNY R-AHEC works with the HCP’s accounts payable department, functions as a billing contact, manages vendor invoices and FCC payments, resolves billing issues, and acts as a liaison with the vendor and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) throughout the funding period. WNY R-AHEC charges a nominal admin fee of 10 percent of the monthly recurring cost of each circuit ($100 minimum per month). Multi-facility discounts are available! As a not-for-profit, the admin fees are used to further WNY R-AHEC’s mission “to improve health and healthcare through education.” The admin fees are funneled back into programs that support health workforce development, pipeline activities, preceptor development, rural housing for clinical rotations, and community health initiatives.

Please direct any questions about the RBHN to WNY R-AHEC’s Peter Appleton or Andrew Mills at RBHN@r-ahec.org or 585-786-6275.