In July 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated the most comprehensive review of the E-rate program since the program’s inception in 1997. The FCC adopted the E-rate Modernization Order on July 11, 2014. The Order takes major steps to modernize and streamline the schools and libraries universal service support program and focuses on expanding funding for Wi-Fi networks in elementary and secondary schools and libraries across America. For almost 20 years, the E-rate program has helped ensure that eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to the Internet. In modernizing the program, the Order seeks to ensure that the program is geared towards meeting the broadband needs of schools and libraries in today’s world of interactive, individualized digital learning.
Highlights of the E-rate Modernization (E-rate 2.0):
- Annual funding cap for the E-rate program was raised from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion
- The discount rate for all voice services will be reduced by 20% each funding year beginning in FY2015
- Districts will now use a district-wide discount based on total district enrollment and total NSLP eligibility
- Urban/Rural status is based on most recent decennial U.S. Census data
- Webhosting, e-mail and paging service will no longer be eligible beginning in FY 2015
- Commercially available 100+ mbps Internet packages costing less than $3600/year will no longer have to be competitively bid
- The top discount for Category Two is now 85%, rather than 90%
- Each school building will qualify for a $150 per student PRE-DISOCUNT budget (or minimum of $9200) over 5 years for C2 purchases
- Each library building will qualify for a $2.30 per square foot PRE-DISCOUNT budget (or minimum of $9200) over 5 years for C2 purchases
- Components that do not support broadband distribution are no longer eligible C2 items (servers, VoIP/video components)
- A 1-time invoice (BEAR or SPI) extension will be granted but only if submitted by invoice deadline (typically October 28)
- Technology plans are no longer required by the E-rate program
Publicly Released Information
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