Since 1997, the E-Rate program has been an important means of funding for U.S schools and libraries to enhance their student learning with better technology. E-Rate is the largest federal education technology program, and, under the oversight of the FCC, it ensures that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services.
Most non-profit K-12 schools as well as all public and many private libraries are included as eligible participants. Program participants may request funding in five categories of service: Telecommunications, Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, Internal Connections, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.
E-Rate Modernization Order
On July 23, 2014, the FCC adopted a broad overhaul of the e-rate program, named the E-Rate Modernization order which focused on expanding subsidies for Wi-Fi to $1 billion per year.
In November 2014, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed the first increase in the e-rate budget, an increase of $1.5 billion. In December 2014, the FCC approved the increase by a vote of 3-2, raising the total budget from 2.4 to 3.9 billion.
Notable changes to E-Rate Program
Following these budget increases, the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program that include economic incentives to schools and libraries.
These changes include:
- Provide upfront funding for all eligible capital costs for new fiber network construction
- Allow schools and libraries to pay their non-discounted share of upfront costs over four years
- Expand funding to include lit services, dark fiber, and self-provisioned fiber
- Fund construction costs beyond the applicant’s property line
- Provide Category One eligibility support for the modulation electronics needed for fiber
E-Rate has been a very beneficial funding source for schools and libraries, but without specific and proven device and data security solutions in place, many districts will not be able to receive it. The growing volume of devices needed in the classroom for cloud-based access to curriculum requires a stable connection to data endpoints.
Omega Networks partners with and supports K–12 organizations through the E-Rate process and provides the necessary solutions to ensure they remain eligible for the funding.
For more information about the E-Rate program and how we can help, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the E-Rate Program visit USAC.org.