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It’s Here!

For the 2015 E-rate year the program is getting its first ever major overhaul.

2015 & after

3 Goals:

  1. Ensuring affordable access to high speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries
  2. Maximize the cost effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchase
  3. Making the E-Rate application process and other E-Rate processes fast, simple and efficient

Broadband Bench Marks for:


  • 100mbps per 100 students short term
  • The goal of 1 gbps per 1000 long term

  • 100 mbps for libraries with less than 50,000 users
  • 1 gbps for libraries with more than 50,000 users

All workable application decisions by September 1

  • USAC has set a goal to have all “workable” applications completed by September 1 of the funding year. Workable means, the application was filed on time, and is complete, with all necessary information, to enable a reviewer to make an appropriate funding decision, and the applicant, provider, and any consultants are not subject to investigation, audit, or other similar reason for delay

Changes: Category I and Category II:

The funding buckets change from Priority I and Priority II to Category I and Category II.

Category I includes:

• Voice, at a reduced rate and for a limited time • Broadband

Category II includes:

• Routers • Switching
• Wireless access points • Cabling
• Racks • Controllers
• UPS’s • Software
• Cloud based controllers • Basic maintenance of Wi-Fi equipment
• Managed Wi-Fi • Obtained LAN/WLAN’s as a managed service for 3-5 years
• Caching services • Firewall service

Services Eliminated immediately

• Paging • Web-hosting
• Directory Assistance • Texting
• E-mail • DID’s
• Voice mail

Voice service Phase down

  • Voice service support will be phased down over a 5 year period, including cell phone service.
  • If you are a 90% school, in year 2015, you will get a 70% discount on Voice service
    2016 = 50%
    2017 = 30% and so on until you no longer get support on voice service.


  • Broadband services will still be supported

Category I

Will still comprise voice and internet services and will be supported by $2.25 billion a year.
Category I services will still get first priority in E-Rate support[/toggle] [/accordion]

Category II

Will be supported by $1 billion a year from the FCC but will take secondary priority over Category I. This means that if demand for Category I exceeds their $2.25 billion then they will take whatever funds necessary from the Category II budget to fulfill that demand. On the other side of that, if demand for Category I services does not reach $2.25 billion, then that extra money can be rolled into the Category II budget. If there is any extra money from year to year it can be rolled over to the next funding year.[/toggle] [/accordion]

Category II – Wi-Fi Includes

• Routers • Firewall service
• Switching • UPS’s
• Wireless access points • Software
• Cabling • Cloud based controllers
• Racks • Basic maintenance of Wi-Fi equipment
• Controllers • Managed Wi-Fi
• Obtained LAN/WLAN’s as a managed service for 3-5 years

Category II discounts:

  • The max discount for a Category II service is now 85%.

Category II Budget

USAC has instituted budgeting for Category II services. Schools get $150 a student and libraries get $2.30 a square foot. These budgets are a 5 year budget and are all the Category II funding you will receive.


  • If you are a school with 1,000 students and you’re a 80% school you would get $120,000 in Category II support for a 5 year period
    • (1,000 * 150 = $150,000*.8=$120,000)
  • If you are a 10,000 sq/ft library with an 80% discount you would get $18,400 in support for a 5 year period
    • (10,000 * 2.30 = 23,000 * .8 = $18,400)

Minimum Discount

For those schools with less than 61 students they receive minimum discount of $9,200, pre discountExample:

  • If they are a 80% school they would receive $7,360 in support
    • (9,200 * .8 = $7,360)

Air Cards and Data Plans

  • Both air cars and data plans are both still eligible, at your school or library site. However, you have to demonstrate how they are more cost effective than using your own Wi-Fi network.

Process Changes

Tech Plans

  • Tech plans are no longer required for any e-rate support

Income Surveys

You can no longer extrapolate your Income Surveys. In years past you could send every family in your school an income survey and as long as you got back 50%, or more, you would be able to extrapolate your entire population. You can no longer do this. Now you have to send out a survey to all families and count only those surveys you receive back, no extrapolation.

Installation of Category II equipment

You used to have to wait until July 1 or after before you could install your equipment. Now USAC is letting you install Category II equipment on April 1 of that funding year or after.

Item 21 Attachment

In years past, USAC used to keep this pricing information private. Now they are going to be publishing pricing information on their website in a move to drive down prices

Community Eligibility Provision – CEP

  • In years past, if you participated in CEP you could not use this information you had to revert back to the last time you participated in NSLP. Now you can use your CEP discount for E-rate purposes

Preferred Master Contracts

USAC may come up with Preferred Master Contracts for equipment. These would be national contracts for use during your vendor selection.

  • These may be exempt from Competitive bidding rules
  • These may be mandatory for all bid evaluations, even it you don’t purchase off one of them


In years past, when a school or library filed a BEAR form the money would flow from USAC to the service provider then back to the school or library. Starting in funding year 2016, when you file a BEAR form the money will flow from USAC directly to the school or library. However, the school or library will be required to have their banking info on file with USAC because they will only use Electronic Funds Transfer.


  • Now when you take E-Rate funding you must allow auditors, investigators, attorneys, and other appointed personnel to enter your premises to conduct E-Rate compliance inspections.

Document Retention

  • The document retention requirement went from 5 years from the last day to receive service to 10 years from the last day to receive service.