Carrier E-rate – telecommunications for education

There are plenty of sectors that rely on Internet access rather heavily. While almost everyone has benefited from access to the Internet, in some organizations or industries, this can make or break their future. Some such sectors are:

  • Technology of course
  • Research
  • Financial
  • Defense and
  • Education and academia.


When it comes to education, many governments subsidize global telecom and Internet access to educational institutions. One such example is E-Rate. Otherwise known as Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, E-Rate is all about:

  • Helping schools and libraries in the USA to gain access to the Internet
  • Working on funding which is generated by a Universal Service Fee and
  • Is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) which is guided by the FCC or Federal Communications Commission.


How does it work?

The universal service fund is managed by the NECA or National Exchange Carrier Association. When it comes to Carrier E-rate, the USAC was established by the NECA as a subsidiary. This subsidiary was primarily created to ensure that Carrier e-rate was free from any power of local exchange carriers.


Types of funding

The program calls for funding under for separate degrees of service. Carrier E-rate can therefore be divided across:

  • Telecommunications services
  • Internal connections
  • Maintenance of these Internet connections and
  • Internet access.


As of this year, 2014, the eligible services list has been bifurcated into two priority areas. First priority has been given to telecom services, telecommunications and Internet access. Priority Two has been given to basic maintenance and Internet connections.


Carrier e-rate funding is available for libraries, hospitals and schools and depending on the economic status and physical or geographical location of the school, library or hospital, the E-Rate funding can account for up to 90% of the total costs of telecommunications.



Depending on the Carrier E-rate, this program can take care of 20 to 90% of the total costs of telecommunications and some of the services that are included under this umbrella are:

  • Ethernet
  • Fiber
  • T1 connectivity and even
  • PR1.


Telecom companies which qualify as Carrier e-rate can make the best of this opportunity by even tying up with a master agent so to speak. This master agent will be able to assess the different telecom carriers and propose the most competitive one for an end user. Of course, an academic institution will have to demonstrate eligibility.


Eligibility criteria

It is pretty interesting to note that each of the eligible services list, as mentioned earlier, has some very specific products or services that E-Rate applicants can go through in order to qualify for discounts. Some of the services are:

  • Dark fiber
  • Email service
  • Web hosting
  • Wireless Internet access.


On the other hand, some services that are not eligible for support by E-Rate are:

  • End user equipment
  • Dark fiber warehousing
  • Some components of Internet access such as training on the use of Internet and so on.


Thus, looking at the E-rate program and how carriers can make use of it can go a long way in helping an academic institution get connected to the Internet at large.