E-Rate is the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.
As a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an Order on May 8, 1997, creating the E-rate program to ensure that schools and libraries have affordable access to advanced telecommunications services. Under the program, discounts ranging from 20% to 90% on Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, and Internal Connections are provided to eligible schools and libraries, subject to a $2.25 billion annual cap.
On July 23 2014, the FCC adopted a broad overhaul of the e-rate program, named the E-Rate Modernization order. The order focused on expanding subsidies for Wi-Fi to a target of $1 billion a year. The move was embraced by many in the telecommunications industry, including Comcast, Cisco, and PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association. The reform was also lauded by the American Library Association.
In November 2014, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed the first increase in the e-rate budget, an increase of $1.5 billion. In December 2014, the FCC approved the increase by a vote of 3-2, raising the total budget from 2.4 to 3.9 billion.
In Michigan, the new contract for E-Rate support is through the Technology Readiness Infrastructure Grant (TRIG) E-Rate activity via the Michigan Department of Education. TRIG has hired E-Rate Central as the primary providers of support and we will now have their resources behind us.
- E-Rate questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the E-Rate PIA process, E-Rate Central is available to assist the applicant (library personnel or the library's E-Rate consultant) with:
- clarification should you not understand what PIA is requesting
- guidance regarding a delay or complication with the PIA process or a PIA reviewer
- assistance in the event your application funding is at risk
Please follow this guidance whenever dealing with PIA:
- Attempt to provide all responses to PIA clearly and concisely in writing (via email) with as little elaboration as necessary to answer PIA’s specific question(s)
- Use caution when speaking with a PIA reviewer as both what you say may negatively impact your application
- Notify PIA and request an extension in writing if you are unable to provide a complete response in the time PIA has allotted
Please use the help desk email to contact E-Rate Central for PIA issues: email@example.com.