We live in an increasingly connected world where information and ideas flow quickly. That connection is enabled by telecommunications and Internet technologies. Those who don’t have ready access can quickly fall behind and are less able to enjoy the full advantages of modern life. Perhaps nowhere is the availability of these connections more important than in our schools and libraries.
These technologies, however, can be expensive and underfunding for education is an increasing problem. Fortunately, the Federal Communication Commission has developed a program through the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company to make telecommunications and Internet access affordable.
E-Rate Means Discounted Internet Access and Phones Systems for Schools and Libraries
The program, commonly called “E-rate,” provides qualifying K-12 public schools and libraries 20 to 90% discounts on certain telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections costs. E-rate discounts are established with consideration given to the number of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Schools and libraries located in rural areas and low-income urban communities are entitled to larger discounts.
Who Cares About School Phone Systems?
Every school and library has some kind of phone system, so why is this program so important? Modern phones for schools and libraries offer significant advantages for educational institutions; including:
- Reduced impact on already overburdened IT staff
- Access to advanced features like auto attendants and voicemail
- Personalized call routing for staff, including the use of mobile devices without revealing personal mobile numbers
- Emergency contingencies
- Predictable monthly costs and simplified vendor management
Schools and libraries bring our communities together and reflect what we value. The E-rate program is an important step toward creating the infrastructure necessary to support this generation of students as they learn to understand, use and leverage the technologies at the foundation of today’s society.