This change “will allow schools, for the first time, to leverage eRate discounts to outsource major aspects of delivering on-campus broadband connectivity,” said John Harrington, chief executive officer of the eRate consulting firm Funds For Learning. He described this approach as “analogous to a school cafeteria considering bids to manage their kitchen and serve students meals.”
The FCC’s new rules aim to transform the eRate from a telecommunications program into a broadband program that supports the delivery of high-speed internet service within schools and libraries, in order to meet President Obama’s “ConnectED” goal of delivering broadband service to 99 percent of students within five years.
However, to set aside this $5 billion for Wi-Fi service and other internal connections over the next five years, the FCC has made significant changes to the kinds of services that are eligible for eRate support.
For instance, funding for all voice-related services—including plain old telephone service, toll-free service, and even voice over IP (VoIP)—will be phased out over the next five years. And eMail, voice mail, and web hosting no longer will be eligible for eRate discounts beginning in 2015.
These changes will have a significant effect on schools this year and beyond.
eSchool News is publishing a series of articles examining the impact the new eRate rules will have on schools. You can look for these articles on our home page every Tuesday through Sept. 9.
Here are the articles we’ve already published in our eRate series:
A $5 billion bounty: How to use eRate support for Wi-Fi
The FCC’s new eRate rules set aside $5 billion over the next five years for Wi-Fi equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to know to take advantage.
New eRate rules invite a new approach: Managed Wi-Fi
In this report, you’ll learn what managed Wi-Fi service is—and how it can benefit your schools.
Top ed-tech stories to watch, No. 5: Maker movement makes waves
Top ed-tech stories to watch, No. 4: Schools grapple with data privacy
Top ed-tech stories to watch, No. 3: From 1-to-1 to ‘one to many’