When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) modernized the E-Rate program in 2014, to help increase access to Internet services at K–12 schools and libraries, it also made several rule changes to drive down the cost of services and equipment for the program.
These changes ensure that schools are spending E-Rate funds as efficiently as possible.
Among the changes:
Price transparency: The FCC has directed the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which manages the E-Rate program, to post the prices of services and technology paid by each applicant.
Posting the prices will create transparency and allow schools and districts to see what others are paying, so they can negotiate better prices, says Keith Bockwoldt, director of technology services at Township High School District 214, in Arlington Heights, Ill.
“In Illinois, you can have one district paying $3 per megabyte and another paying $9 per megabyte from the same vendor,” he says. “We feel it should be equitable, so transparency can make a difference.”
Bulk purchases through a consortium: To encourage schools and districts to join a consortium, the FCC will prioritize E-Rate applications from state and regional consortia. Bulk purchasing through a consortium can also drive down prices.
For more on E-Rate's modernization and how it will affect your school, read CDW’s white paper Get Ready for E-Rate 2.0.