The applications filing window for the fiscal-year 2013 E-Rate program will open on Dec. 12 and run through March 14 of next year, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced.
The FCC implemented the program in 1997 to ensure that eligible schools received affordable access to Internet, modern telecommunications and information services. However, school bus GPS, and specifically cellular rates for GPS data-transfer, have been ineligible for E-Rate funding. According to USAC, if the district does not knowingly apply for an ineligible service, they would only have to return the money that was refunded in the first place.
Eligible technology for schools include: basic phone service, which includes local and long distance (toll) service; leased data circuits; T-1, 56K and ISDN lines; dial-up Internet access; direct Internet connections; and email. Telecommunications connections that eligible under the program include: telecommunications wiring; routers; switches; hubs; network servers; ertain system operating software; wireless LANs; installation and basic maintenance; and Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
Voicemail, online content, professional development training and software are all ineligible uses of E-Rate as are the purchase of personal computers, FAX machines, modems in PCs, electrical wiring and cameras.
Schools seeking to apply for E-Rate funds must first develop a technology plan before they may apply for discounts.
More information can be found on the USAC Schools and Libraries website.