It’s Not Too Late for E-Rate, Part 2: What You Need to Know
Under the new E-Rate guidelines, funding for traditional, circuit-based voice services is gone and funding for modern, IP-based voice services is disappearing. That could change in the future—and change is the one constant with E-Rate—but right now school and library administrators need to build their funding plans around the current facts. So what’s the right course of action? That depends a lot on where you are right now.
If you’re currently receiving E-Rate funding for VoIP services and qualify for funding next year, then now is the time to be looking at your long-term voice strategy. A premise-based VoIP system may eat up more of your IT budget down the road than you’re willing to spend. This may be the right time to consider moving to a hosted or cloud-based VoIP solution, particularly as the burden of cost shifts to your budget.
If you lost out on funding this year because of your legacy phone system, don’t throw in the towel on E-Rate. Instead, take advantage of the partial funding window to move to a VoIP-based solution. In fact, one of the FCC’s goals in removing traditional voice funding is to encourage schools and libraries to save money by moving to a VoIP-based communications system.
If you’re not currently participating in the E-Rate program, what are you waiting for? Consider this your invitation! In terms of overall funding, there has never been a better time to participate in the E-Rate program. Rural schools in particular can qualify for generous funding packages, but they’ll need to select a voice services provider before they apply.