E-Rate Discount Program Overview for Libraries

E-Rate Funding for Schools and Libraries: Discount Program Overview for Libraries

E-Rate funding can help libraries save 20 – 90% on communications technologies like Internet and telecommunications. The federal government's E-Rate program offers discounts on services and equipment that can help connect your community to the world of information on the Internet, including jobs, news and education materials.

What is E-Rate?

E-Rate is the common name for a portion of Universal Service, as mandated by Telecommunications Acts of 1934 and 1996. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the program under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Put simply, this federal government program offers substantial discounts to E-Rate schools and libraries to help them implement telecommunications and Internet access. With E-Rate funding, your library can obtain more affordable rates on the latest voice, data and Internet services—along with the equipment that enables these technologies.

Ranging from 20 to 90 percent off eligible services, discounts are determined by the cost of services and equipment as well as the level of need. Our experience with education funding technology policies and procedures has helped many libraries take advantage of this program. Some of the eligible services Cable ONE Business can provide include:

Internet and Data Services
  • Dedicated Internet Access: A dedicated fiber-optic connection from Cable ONE Business's network to your library
  • Ethernet: Enables two or more library locations anywhere in the U.S. to connect through a network
  • Cable Modem Internet: A reliable yet economical way to connect to the Internet with a variety of options, so you pay only for the speed you need
Telecommunication Services
  • Business Phone Service: Reliable, low-cost phone services with robust, easy-to-manage features—including free domestic long distance plan option
  • Primary Rate Interface (PRI): Works with existing PBX or local PRI-compatible phone systems, allowing you to increase phone users and functionality without increasing cost; optimal for libraries with 25 or more employees with high call volumes

How to Enroll in the E-Rate Program

To obtain technology services with E-Rate funding, your library must be designated as an eligible entity. To qualify as an eligible entity, a number of forms must be filed with the USAC. Cable ONE Business is well versed in the E-Rate process and our experts can help you select services and seek E-Rate qualification. An overview of qualifying steps follows:

  1. Competitive Bidding: Your library applies by filing FCC Form 470 on the USAC website to solicit bids.
  2. Select Service Providers: After your FCC Form 470 has been publicly available for 28 days, your library selects service provider(s), using price as a highly weighted factor in the selection process.
  3. Apply for Discounts: Once you have selected service provider(s), you must file the FCC Form 471 declaring your service provider and the discounts for which you are approved.
  4. Application Review: Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewers at the USAC check through the information you have submitted to ensure your application is accurate and complete.
  5. Begin Services: Once you have begun receiving services from your chosen service provider(s), you will fileFCC Form 486. This form notifies the USAC that your services have begun, invoicing can occur and you are in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
  6. Invoicing: After FCC Form 486 is processed, you or your service provider can invoice the USAC. If you invoice USAC, your service provider must approve it before you submit FCC Form 472. If your service provider does the invoicing, it will file FCC Form 474.

Qualifying as an E-Rate library can bring modern broadband and telecommunication services to your staff and patrons at much lower-than-commercial rates. Cable ONE Business can not only provide your library with top-notch technology, but can also help with your questions about eligible services. Learn more about the benefits of E-Rate services and how to participate by contacting a Cable ONE Business E-Rate expert today.

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