E-Rate Phone Services Offered To Qualified Educational Institutions
The ability to use existing data networks to place voice calls and transport voice traffic over the data network is growing in importance for Schools and Libraries, enabling schools to make cloud-based voice services a critical part of their technology infrastructure. School administrators and technology leaders are discovering how hosted VoIP/UC communication lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) while improving productivity and security for schools. In fact, the E-Rate program can provide you with a discount of up to 90% on your new, affordable cloud-based voice service.
UniVoIP has assembled years of experience deploying Cloud-based communication solution and is addressing school and library challenges as an E-Rate program provider by offering an affordable and cost-effective way to:
- E-RATE eligible. Replace your legacy telephone systems, which are a burden to maintain, and eliminate costly local, long distance and service charges. UniVoIP services are subject to Priority One E- Rate funding.
- Eliminate capital expense. UniVoIP is offering turnkey services providing predictable and economical flat-rate monthly fees for Administration staff and Teachers. Address the need to easily and quickly scale on demand as requirements increase or decrease.
- Extend your current investment. UniVoIP services are leveraging your current data network and do not require proprietary nor specific data infrastructure. We are also offering private/dedicated connection to our Cloud, eliminating Voice traffic going to Internet.
- Expand communications. Free to move phone anywhere that has Internet access. Assign any phone to be your extension (hot-desking).
- Achieve 24 x 7 x 365 peace-of-mind and simplify support. UniVoIP’s solution comes with automated revisions and upgrades without paying for maintenance. Reduce the IT support burden as the platform management responsibility shifts to UniVoIP. Improve response time and user-level support with easy web-based Moves, Adds and Changes (MACS) portal. UniVoIP is also offering project management, on-site installation and training.
- Improve functionalities and productivity. Leverage updated hosted voice communication services such as Voice-mail-to- Email, Cell phone integration and more.
- An Enterprise-class business phone system with over 50 standard features for increased productivity and mobility
- Low and predictable monthly rates (further discounts may be available if you are based in CA)
- Unlimited local and long distance calling (US)
- Competitive international rates
- UniFax (Fax-to-Email / Email-to-Fax)
- One local or toll-free main company number
- Free 24/7 customer support
- Dedicated UniVoIP Account Manager
- Easy to use online management
What is E-Rate?
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 under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission.
The program provides discounts — which range from 20 to 90% off — to assist schools and libraries to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.
Services Eligible for E-Rate Discounts:
- Telecommunications Services
- Internet Access
- Internal Connections
- Basic Maintenance
UniVoIP’s Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN):
Who Qualifies for the E-Rate Program
Organizations that qualify for the E-Rate program include:
- Public, charter and non-profit schools
- Non-Instructional Facilities (NIF)
- Non-traditional elementary and secondary education facilities
- Educational Service Agencies (ESA)
- Public, research, academic and private libraries
Before applying for the Schools and Libraries Program and comparing E-Rate program suppliers, we recommend reviewing your state’s definitions for libraries and schools to ensure yours qualifies.
How to Join the E-Rate Program
Joining the E-Rate program and receiving your discount encompasses four steps:
- Obtain an Entity Number: Create your account with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), and you’ll receive your entity number, which is used in your application to receive E-Rate discounts. Your online USAC account is also helpful for checking your application’s status.
- Request Bids From E-Rate Program Suppliers: Receive or solicit bids over a 28-day period from service providers. USAC requires you evaluate each proposal via a Bid Evaluation Matrix, which explains why you chose your E-Rate program provider.
- Apply for E-Rate Program Discounts: Prepare and file your application within USAC’s designated filing window — this changes each year. You’ll need several documents, including information on your E-Rate program company, as well as data detailing your number of students and the size of your library.
- Submit Invoice for a Discounted Rate: Following approval from USAC, which may include follow-up questions from their Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) team, we can begin installing your new system. After services start, you must submit a second form within 120 days. Once that document is approved, we’ll send an invoice to USAC while you and your students enjoy the benefits of your new phone system.
If you have any questions about our role in the VoIP E-Rate program, from setting up your system to invoicing USAC, contact us.
E-Rate Eligibility for Schools, Libraries and Other Facilities
USAC delivers much-needed funds to qualifying schools, libraries and other institutions. For many facilities, the biggest question is whether you meet the requirements for the E-Rate program, also known as the Schools and Libraries Program.
Here are three institutions that qualify for financial assistance from USAC.
E-Rate eligibility for schools extends to public, charter and non-profit schools that offer education for K-12, whether they’re residential or institutional day schools. For-profit institutes are excluded from E-Rate funding, as is any school that receives more than $50 million in endowments.
To confirm your facility is E-Rate eligible, check your state’s specific definition for elementary and secondary education and see if yours meets that definition. Many state laws define elementary and secondary educations with the following factors:
- School year
- Teacher requirements
- And more
Schools can form a consortium, or group with other entities, to boost their E-Rate eligibility.
The “Library Services and Technology Act” (LSTA) is the basis for libraries qualifying for E-Rate funding. Your library must meet the definition outlined in that law, which includes the following types of libraries:
- Public school library
Libraries must have a budget separate from their school to apply for E-Rate discounts.
- Other Institutions
Several other educational institutions can receive funding from USAC, including:
- Non-Instructional Facilities: Administrative buildings, technology centers, stadiums and other structures for schools and libraries are eligible for E-Rate funding, even if they’re not open to the public.
- Non-Traditional Elementary or Secondary Institutions Pre-kindergarten, head start, juvenile justice and adult education facilities can all apply for assistance from USAC through the Schools and Libraries Program.
- Educational Service Agencies: E-Rate eligibility also extends to regional public service agencies that create, manage and deliver programs or services to local education agencies.
- Miscellaneous School Residential Facilities: Starting in 2011, USAC expanded on what schools are E-Rate eligible by including educational institutions on tribal lands, as well as schools where 35% or more of students qualified for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). If your district teaches children with medical needs or physical, behavioral or cognitive disabilities, you’re also E-Rate eligible.
Eligible Services Included in the E-Rate Program
Each year, the qualifying services included in the E-Rate program can change. Reviewing the supported products and services before submitting your application is essential, as you’ll have a more accurate idea of which items your E-Rate discount would cover.
General services covered by USAC include two main categories, or priorities.
Category One services include:
- Data Transmission Services and Internet Access: This E-Rate eligible service consists of your basic conduit access to the Internet, as well as your broadband connectivity.
- Voice Services: VoIP, cellular phones and local and long distance wired telephone services count as a Priority One voice service. Our reliable VoIP service offers you and your school or library an opportunity to boost productivity without concern over downtime.
Our services at UniVoIP are eligible for Priority One E-Rate funding.
Category Two services include:
- Internal Connections: This service included in the E-Rate program offers discounts on wiring, access points, routers and more. These products must be located on-site and used for classrooms and public library areas to qualify.
- Managed Internal Broadband Services: Provider services, such as for the management and monitoring of your eligible Wi-Fi connections and components, can receive E-Rate funding.
- Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections: Software upgrades and fixes, as well as additional hardware repair and upkeep also qualify for E-Rate discounts. Assistance from your provider is an E-Rate eligible service.
Understanding the details of E-Rate eligibility, from the requirements for institutions to the standards for services, can help you and your organization plan your total costs and discounts for updating your legacy phone system with UniVoIP’s cloud-based communication solution.
Contact our experienced team today to learn more about our Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) solutions.
E-Rate Application Process
Receiving E-Rate discounts, which range from 20 to 90%, consists of a thorough application process. At UniVoIP, we’re an experienced provider of E-Rate phone services, which is why we’ve created a guide to give you a brief overview of the E-Rate application process.
- Preparing for the Application Process
Start your application process by reviewing the following factors:
- Eligible schools, libraries and other institutions
- Qualifying E-Rate services
- E-Rate application deadline
If your organization qualifies for funding, begin your application by creating an online E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) account with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which approves and distributes E-Rate discounts.
- Initiating Competitive Bidding
The E-Rate application process requires competitive bidding that is open and fair. The bidding period must last — at minimum — 28 days. Once that timeframe has passed, you’re free to choose a provider.
To ensure bidding is fair, you’re prohibited from the following:
- Sharing exclusive information with select bidders
- Accepting gifts from bidders
- Providing a heads-up to bidders before opening the bidding
- Giving preferential treatment to one bidder over another
Review these requirements before filing FCC Form 470 with USAC. Alongside FCC Form 470, you can also issue a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is optional but provides a comprehensive review of your project.
- Choosing Service Providers
Evaluate your received bids, which can include contracts or month-to-month subscriptions. In this step of the E-Rate application process, you’ll create a Bid Evaluation Matrix to compare your submitted proposals, determine your provider and outline your decision process.
Weigh as many factors as you’d like in your Bid Evaluation Matrix, but remember that USAC requires cost to be the most critical factor. If you only received a single bid, you must still consider the proposed bid’s price.
- Filing E-Rate Applications
File your official E-Rate application with FCC Form 471, which requires the following:
- Entity number
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) or Federal-State Cooperative System (FSCS) code
- Total number of students and number of eligible students for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- Description of services, including cost, provider name and service start and end dates
- Internet access connections and speeds
Libraries will need to include additional information, such as their square footage.
Make sure you file your application during the filing window, which is about two and a half months. Submissions after the E-Rate application deadline are accepted but receive lower priority.
- Receiving Approval
Check the status of your application through your EPC account. During its review, you may receive follow-up questions from Program Integrity Assurance staff members. You have 15 days to respond to these.
- Discount calculations
- And more
Following review, you’ll receive a decision from USAC via a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL). It’ll contain essential information, like any additional actions for the E-Rate application process. If you disagree with USAC’s decision, you may contest it.
- Installing Services
Get ready to use your services by submitting FCC Form 486, which shows your approved services and discounts. File this form after whichever date is later — 120 days after your service start date or 120 days after receiving your FCDL.
Review the final details of your agreement with your service provider and determine who is submitting an invoice to USAC. Some providers will send the invoice on your behalf. After you’ve decided, you can begin your service installation.
- Billing USAC
Whether you or your provider is billing USAC, it’s essential they receive the invoice within 120 days — either after the deadline to receive service or after receiving your FCC Form 486 Notification Letter, whichever date is later.
If you’re submitting the bill, file FCC Form 498 to receive an applicant ID and then the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form, also known as FCC Form 472. USAC will submit your rebate to your bank account.
Ensure you’ve completed the following before submitting FCC Form 472:
- Approval of E-Rate funds through an FCDL
- Filing of FCC Form 498 and FCC Form 486
- Certification of FCC Form 473 by service provider
- Payment of services to your service provider
- Delivery of services by your service provider
Once you’ve received payment, you’re ready to enjoy the full benefits of your new services. If you do need help, USAC staff members are available to help with the E-Rate application process.
At UniVoIP, we’re dedicated to being an experienced developer and provider of innovative cloud-based communication solutions. Our Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) solutions deliver enhanced productivity and efficiency, giving you and your staff the tools to do more without concern over downtime.
Learn more about our services by contacting us today!
What are the benefits of a managed business VoIP system?
- Exponential Savings – No initial investment and low monthly rates. Instantly save when you upgrade or move to a new location and happily avoid dropping a ton of money on purchasing new phones across the board. Oh, and no hidden fees too.
- Future Proof – Receive free upgrades for life and never get stuck with an outdated system. All updates are piped to your phones at no charge. Plus, lifetime warranties on each unit.
- Geographical Flexibility – Receive service wherever, whenever. Take that meeting in Kyoto, while picking up that call from NY, wherever there’s an internet connection, you’ll have phone service.
- Local Presence – Create outposts by setting a local phone number in any city and appear to have offices in that location. Expand business presence without having to rent an entire building.
- Credibility – Sound clear and professional when you pick up the phone and forget about call drops. Possess all the tools of an enterprise communications system at a fraction of the price.
- Scalability – Whether eight or eight hundred, scale as your organization grows. Need to open a new office? Not a problem; your system will be up in no time.
- Easy Setup / Easy to Use – Getting started is as simple as plugging in a phone, and with UniVoIP’s administrative portal customizing settings is a cinch.
- Mobility – In your car, or on the go, always have access to your phone system and never miss a call again. Whether it’s receiving a voice-mail via email, or having your desk phone twinned with your cell you will always be kept in the loop.
- 24/7 Support – It’s three in the morning and you need help. Don’t worry, just give our team a call and we’ll get right on it. UniVoIP Support is friendly, knowledgeable and gets the job done.
- Disaster Recovery – During a catastrophe phones are more vital than ever. UniVoIP’s robust system has full redundancy so your phones will always be online, no matter what