"No. 2 on our list of key ed-tech trends for the new school year is the dramatic overhaul of the eRate, the nation’s school wiring program." continues eSchool News.
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced the most significant changes to the eRate, the $2.4 billion-a-year federal school connectivity program, in the program’s 17-year history.
|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. |
Photo: eSchool News
The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and “internal connections” (such as routers, switches, and Wi-Fi equipment) to eligible schools and libraries.
Until now, internal connections have been designated as “Priority 2” services and have been funded only after all requests for “Priority 1” services (telecommunications services and internet access) were met. However, that left most schools without any eRate funding for Wi-Fi equipment and other internal connections.
The FCC’s new eRate rules set aside $5 billion in funding over the next five years for the internal connections needed to extend broadband access within schools and libraries.
To spread this funding to the largest number of applicants possible, the agency has taken two key steps: (1) It has limited the maximum discount on these services at 85 percent, and (2) it has placed a $150-per-student cap on the amount of internal connections that schools can apply for within a five-year period.
What’s more, the FCC has introduced a new category of service that is eligible for eRate support: managed Wi-Fi, or “managed internal broadband services” as the agency refers to it.
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.
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.
Source: eSchool News