E-Rate

The E-Rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to help schools and libraries connect to the internet. Through the E-Rate program affordable broadband internet access, internal network connections (primarily WiFi), basic maintenance of internal connections and some telecommunication services are available at a discounted cost to schools and libraries. Discounts range from 20-90% or 20%-85% of the cost of the eligible service and is based on the institution’s level of poverty and location.

E-Rate 2.0

Despite the E-Rate program’s enormous success in connecting classrooms to the internet, the FCC recognizes the need to modernize E-Rate and ensure all children have access to the high speed learning solutions to meet their educational goals.

Some of the issues/recommendations under consideration to meet this goal are:

  • Modernization of the management process
  • Increased connectivity to high-capacity broadband
  • Efficient purchasing through bulk buying, consortia and competitive bidding
  • Additional funding and designation of specific funds for Category One and Two separately
  • Elimination of funding for “traditional phone service”

Category One vs. Category Two

E-Rate funded services are defined as either Category One (Services) or Category Two (Internal Connections/Basic Maintenance/Managed Broadband) and applicants may apply either one or both. The services are defined as:

Category One – Services

  •  High-speed leased WANs and Internet
  • Fiber leases (dark or lit)
  • Fixed wireless (e.g. microwave)
  • Mobile device/hotspot data plans:
    • If cost-effective compared to Wi-Fi (C2); or
    • If WLAN impossible
    • Requires cost allocation for off-campus

Category Two –Internal Connections / Internal Connections / Managed Broadband Services

  •  Internal Connections
    • Access Points
    • Wireless LAN Controllers
    • Cabling for Internal Broadband Connections
    • Caching
    • Firewalls
    • Routers
    • UPS for eligible equipment
    • Client Access Licenses
  • Basic Maintenance
    • Repair and upkeep of eligible hardware
    • Wire and cable maintenance
    • Configuration changes
    • Basic technical support
    • Software upgrades and patches
  • Managed Broadband Services

Over $155 Million in E-Rate Services

Custom is a Category Two Provider and prides ourselves on having successfully delivered over $155 million in E-Rate services since the program’s inception.  This is due in large part to the investment we make in training our staff members to ensure they are aware of the latest rules, regulations and funding available through the E-Rate program. Custom representatives attend the Applicant and Service Provider trainings and updates on an annual basis.

In addition to the training we provide our staff, we also offer multiple seminars throughout the region where we share these program updates and changes with our current and potential clients. We encourage schools and libraries that are new to E-Rate or who have questions about the program to reach out to us and we will gladly answer your questions.