The E-rate program has provided discounted telecommunications and information services to eligible schools and libraries since the late 1990’s. In 2014, to catch up with the rapidly changing technology landscape, the FCC issued an E-rate Modernization Order. For the first time in over a decade, the vast majority of school districts and libraries are able to take advantage of substantial discounts for wired and wireless connectivity projects.
At Questeq, Project Services provides our customers consulting services to get the most value from the E-Rate funds available to them. In addition to assisting with category one services, our team provides the initial planning and research needed to apply for category two funding. Learn about category one and category two eligible services here.
Our team performs an in-depth site visit and creates a plan for optimal wireless and wired placement within the school building. Wiring closets are also analyzed to determine wiring and equipment needs. We then provide the planning and needs assessment to our Questeq technology directors so time isn’t taken away from their daily duties. In addition, we also provide E-rate consulting and submission services so our team can manage the whole process for our districts.
There is plenty of funding available for the 2016-17 school year. The deadline has past to apply for 2015-16 but it’s not too late to start planning for 16-17 funding. Here is a typical timeline:
- In late November, file a Form 470¹ . This is a notice that the district intends to purchase goods or services from an eligible E-rate provider.
- Prepare and distribute a Request for Proposal (RFP). This typically includes advertising the opportunity to bid in local newspapers.
- Budget for the district’s fair share, that is, the portion of the project not subsidized by E-rate.
- Open bids at least 28 days after the RFP has been released.
- Select the vendor of choice using price as the most significant evaluation criteria.
- Negotiate a contract.
- Obtain administration approval.
- Obtain Board approval, usually at the February Board meeting.
- File Form 471² , the request for funding. The deadline for this filing is usually around March 15th.
If you are a Questeq customer and would like to utilize Project Services for E-rate planning and submission please contact us today.
To learn more about E-rate and the modernization order, click here.
-George Heinitsh, Director of Infrastructure Services