Article Be Sure to Include Power Protection in Your E-rate Project
By Insight Editor / 2 Jan 2019
By Insight Editor / 2 Jan 2019
Today’s classrooms and school libraries have become digital hubs. Instructors and students have access to multiple technologies at their fingertips. A typical classroom now might include:
But all this new technology can be a budgetary challenge for schools. That’s why the U.S. government stepped in to create the E-rate program, so students across the U.S. can have access to the Internet and digital content. Under the program, schools and libraries apply for funding and discounts that help provide telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections and basic maintenance.
As schools and libraries have grown to become information hubs for millions of students, so has the need for the electrical power to support it. That’s why power protection has become integral to equipping schools with uninterrupted access to digital networks that deliver today’s electronic curriculum.
UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) systems ensure school technology has the reliable power to keep it running and to protect it from harmful surges, spikes and shutdowns. By using UPS systems, schools ensure continuous availability of broadband and telecommunication networks, minimize downtime during minor power fluctuations and prevent damage that occurs during complete power failures.
Under the E-rate program, schools and libraries are awarded federally funded discounts based on economic need. The discounts range from 20 to 90 percent on infrastructure, equipment and services to improve their technology. UPS systems have been eligible for E-rate discounts since 2013, and are listed under category 2 of the program.
The first step is to determine if your school is eligible for E-rate funding at USAC’s website at usac.org. The funding year for the E-rate program begins in July and ends the following June. Beginning in July, schools and libraries determine the scope of their technology projects. Below is a high-level look at a typical e-rate funding year.
File Form 470 – Once you have determined what project you would like to apply for, you will complete FCC Form 470 and file it with the USAC between July and February.
All submitted projects are reviewed by USAC, and approved projects are posted on the USAC website. The posting notifies eligible vendors, who can submit competitive bids to the school/library for consideration.
File Form 471 – To determine the size of the E-rate discount, the school or library completes Form 471, which must be submitted at least 28 days after Form 470 is filed in order to ensure open and competitive bidding. Generally due by mid-March, Form 471 is reviewed by the USAC and the discount rate is determined.
Form 486 – After approval of Form 471, the school or library files FCC Form 486 to identify project start dates. Delivery and installation typically begin in April, and can run into summer.
When applying for E-rate funding, schools and libraries need to consider timing and the most efficient ways of navigating the application process. Here are some tips to make the application process run more smoothly:
Use the USAC as a Resource. If any questions come up during the application process, the USAC can provide answers. USAC representatives can also ensure applications are filled out correctly. More information about the E-rate program, filing requirements and due dates can be found at usac.org.
Plan Ahead. Networking and technology can require planning up to three years into the future. It’s in your best interest to plan ahead to properly allocate and request funding and prioritize projects. Deadlines can change from year to year, so when applying for e-rate projects, keep that possibility in mind and visit usac.org/sl for official deadlines and updates.
Make sure your students have continuous network access with UPS power protection. Take advantage of E-rate discounts and start planning today.