E-rate and Sparklight Business are improving student achievement through affordable communication services
Today’s communications technology has been proven to accelerate and enhance student success. To help your school or library afford the most advanced and powerful communications technology, the federal government’s E-rate program offers substantial discounts (from 20% to 90%) on many of the services provided by Sparklight Business.
What is the E-rate program?
The E-rate program is a government initiative that provides substantial discounts to schools and libraries to help them afford telecommunications and internet access. Adopted in 1997, the program is more formally known as the Schools and Libraries Program. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the program under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Funding for E-rate comes through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and international telecommunication services.
Schools and libraries can receive discounts of 20% to 90%.
Funding is requested under six categories of service: telecommunications services, internet access, voice services, internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services. Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban or rural status of the population served and range from 20% to 90% of the pre-discount costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts, and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium. Applicants must provide additional resources including end-user equipment (e.g., computers, telephones, etc.), software, professional development, and the other elements needed to utilize the connectivity funded by the E-rate program.
Low cost internet exempt from bidding requirement.
Schools and libraries can purchase a commercially available, business-class broadband internet package that costs less than $300 per month (pre-discount) without completing the Form 470 competitive bidding requirement.
The exemption will only apply on packages that offer speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream per building and the charges cannot be averaged across multiple buildings. The annual pre-discount $3600 maximum includes any one-time installation and equipment charges.
What services are eligible for E-rate?
E-rate provides the reimbursement of discounts on services to assist schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications, internet access and voice service, Internal Connections, Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections and Managed Internal Broadband Service.
Under the E-rate discount for schools and libraries, Sparklight Business can provide the following Category One services:
Internet and Data Services
Sparklight Business’ Service Provider Information Number (SPIN)
A SPIN is the unique number assigned to each service provider participating in the Universal Service Fund (USF). Sparklight Business offers a variety of E-rate eligible services in the categories of internet Access and Telecommunications. When filing your E-rate application forms, be sure to include the SPIN for the specific Sparklight Business location that is providing your service.
Sparklight Business SPIN: 143016933
Who is eligible and how do you apply for E-rate?
For schools and libraries to obtain these services at affordable rates, they first must be designated as an eligible entity in order to file and post and FCC Form 470 on the USAC website to solicit bids for services from eligible service providers (i.e., Sparklight Business).
The Application Process for Schools and Libraries
- Competitive Bidding – Applicant files FCC Form 470 on the USAC website soliciting bids.
- Selecting Service Providers from bids received. Price must be a substantial factor when evaluating bids.
- Apply for the discounts – Applicant files FCC Form 471 declaring their service provider and approval for discounts.
- Application Review – Program Integrity Assurance reviewers at USAC review.
- Starting Services – After receiving services from Service Provider, applicant files FCC Form 486.
- Invoicing – Applicants file FCC Form 472, the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement Form or Service Provider files the FCC Form 474 Service Provider Invoice (SPI).
E-rate Program Resources from the Universal Service Administrative Company
- Summary of the E-rate Modernization Order
- E-rate Productivity Center (EPC)
- Common Forms and Downloads
- Glossary of E-rate Terms
Client Service Bureau (CSB)
E-rate help desk where applicant and service providers can get answers to questions.
E-rate expanded to reach more students
In December 2014 the FCC modernized its E-rate program to keep pace with the exploding demand for ever-faster internet service at schools and libraries. This included making more funds available for libraries and schools to purchase broadband connectivity capable of delivering gigabit service over the next five years. It also provides additional options for purchasing broadband services. For more details on the E-rate program expansion, see FCC press release. [external link – open new browser window]
One automatic 120-day invoice deadline extension will be granted if the request is made on or before the original invoice deadline. Invoice extension requests filed after the original invoice deadline will not be granted by USAC and must be requested via a waiver request to the FCC.
Improve student outcomes with E-rate discounts on advanced communications technology.
Equip your school or library to improve student achievement and learning outcomes with E-rate Services from Sparklight Business. To learn more about the benefits of E-rate eligible services and how your school or library can benefit, talk to a Sparklight Business E-rate expert.
For more information about the E-rate program and how to maximize the benefits, talk to a Sparklight Business E-rate expert. Call 844.466.0271. Or email us at [email protected].