Not long ago, school classroom technology consisted of little more than blackboards, chalk, and pencil sharpeners. Today’s classrooms and school libraries have become digital hubs. Instructors and students now have multiple technologies at their fingertips. A typical classroom now might include:
- Computer workstations, charging stations, digital notebooks, and tablets
- Digital projectors, whiteboards, smart screens, and displays
- Scanners, printers, cameras, and A/V equipment
- Servers, switches, and networking equipment>
But this new technology can be a budget challenge for many schools. That’s why the U.S. Government created the E-rate program, so all students have access to the Internet and digital content. The E-rate program provides discounts to help schools and libraries acquire these new technologies. Under the program, schools and libraries apply for funding to help pay for telecommunications products and services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of those internal connections
The ongoing proliferation of digital learning technologies has led to a steady rise in demand for bandwidth in schools and libraries. In recent years, the FCC refocused E-rate from legacy telecommunications services to broadband, with a goal to significantly expand Wi-Fi access. These steps to modernize the program are helping E-rate keep pace with the need for increased Internet access.
Why is E-rate important?
As noted, E-rate funding fills the gaps in school funding for new technology and Internet access. Despite pervasive connectivity in most urban areas in the United States, millions of people across the country have no access to broadband services needed to work, learn, and communicate.
What products are eligible for E-rate funding?
Eligible products and services under the E-rate Program are divided into two categories:
- Data transmission services
- Internet access
- Voice services
- Internal connections
- Managed internal connections
- Basic maintenance of internal connections
Battery backups, or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, fall into Category Two, as a data protection component of the information delivery systems E-rate is intended to fund. UPS systems provide reliable power to technology devices, ensuring consistent access to broadband services and, by extension, digital educational curriculum.
For an overview of E-rate eligible services, visit www.usac.org.
Who is eligible for E-rate funding?
Under the E-rate program, schools and libraries are awarded federally funded discounts based on economic need. The discounts range from 20 to 90 percent on infrastructure, equipment, and services to improve their technology.
Does your school qualify for E-rate discounts? Visit www.usac.org/e-rate/.
Uninterrupted Power = Uninterrupted Learning
UPS systems with surge protection and battery backup ensure school technology has the power to keep running and is protected from harmful surges, spikes, and shutdowns. With UPS systems, schools ensure continuous availability of broadband and telecommunication networks, minimize downtime during minor power fluctuations, and prevent data loss and damage that can occur during power failures.
E-rate Program Tips
- When applying for E-rate funding, consider timing and the most efficient ways of navigating the application process. Use USAC www.usac.org as a resource. If any questions come up during the application process, the USAC can provide answers.
- Plan ahead for future technology needs. Networking and technology can be a major undertaking and requires planning up to three years into the future. Deadlines can change from year to year, so when applying for E-rate projects keep the program due dates in mind. Below is a high-level look at a typical E-rate funding year. Visit www.usac.org/sl for official deadlines and updates.
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Make sure your students have access to the latest learning technology. Take advantage of E-rate discounts and start planning today!