E-rate News & Updates
E-Rate Modernization Series: How to Benefit from the Modernization Changes
USAC hopes to encourage all schools and libraries to adapt a sufficient internet service based on the modernization changes. Significant increases in funding can be made by focusing on increased bandwidth in Category 1 and by carefully utilizing your Category 2 budget.This newsletter will outline the benefits of upgrading your internet service through Category Two, and certain rules and reminders to follow.
Maximizing Category 1 Funding
The E-Rate Modernization has resulted in a shift in the program’s focus. As voice services continue to be phased out, increased bandwidth and digital transmission services will be an excellent investment, since they will remain fully eligible, and will help offset the eventual loss of voice service reimbursements. To maximize your Category 1 funding please considerupgrading your bandwidth to best meet your students’ and patrons’ needs – your current infrastructure might support higher speeds, but if it does not Category 2 funding can help you make the upgrades you need. Digital transmissions services are also worth your consideration, since they will remain fully eligible and also provide tangible benefits to your students or patrons!
Maximizing Category 2 Funding
It will be important to make the most of your Category 2 budget. Internal connection upgradesand projects will allow your school or library to increase connectivity to aid your students and patrons – and the higher connectivity costs that may result will still be fully eligible for reimbursement via Category 1. To maximize your Category 2 funding, please consider the following suggestions. Funding for Internal Connections can best be utilized by planning aheadand assessing if any large projects or even small equipment purchases (such as a single switch, or a UPS, rather than system-wide upgrades) may be a good choice in 2016-2017, since these will need to be included on your application. Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections will often be tied to equipment purchases, but note that ANY EXISTING eligible equipment is covered. If no large internal connection purchases are planned, please consider maintenance of your existing network as a way to improve and maintain your connectivity while receiving additional yearly E-Rate reimbursement until your Category 2 budget is depleted. Managed Internal Broadband Services covers third party management of any new or existing eligible components. As a potential monthly or annual recurring cost, this type of service is also an excellent way to utilize your Category 2 budget on a yearly basis.
Category Two Tips, Rules & Reminders
The Erate Modernization allows applicants to purchase Category Two equipment as early asApril 1, prior to the start of the funding year. If you are, or intend on, taking advantage of this new rule, then keep the following in mind:
– Only engage in purchasing of equipment prior to receipt of FCDL, Funding Commitment Decision Letter, if the school or library’s budget supports payment in full.
– Even if you purchase Category Two equipment prior to July 1st, a BEAR Form cannot be submitted until after July 1st of the funding year, the approved FCDL has been issued, and a Form 486 is filed.
– The same payment method must be used for the entire funding request.
– It is preferred to have a separate PO, Purchase Order, for each FRN.
– Verify that the equipment you order matches what was requested on the Form 471. A Service Substitution must be submitted if there is a need to substitute functionally equivalent equipment.
– The equipment must stay at the location indicated for a period of three years after the date of purchase. After the three years, the equipment can be transferred to other eligible entities. After five years from the date of installation, equipment can be sold, transferred, or disposed of with no notification required to USAC.
The changes in the program present an excellent opportunity for you to take advantage of Erate funding in these different ways. Stayed tuned for our fourth newsletter in our Modernization Series. The following newsletter will cover what we, Erate Exchange, can and will do to help you through the Erate process.
Please call our office to discuss the benefits of the Modernization order, or any questions you may have at 315-422-7608. Our team of E-rate experts is eager to help you identify potential funding opportunities and assist in developing a plan that aims to increase your return on the program.