Pine Cove Pulse

E-Rate 2016: How to get the most out of Sophos Security

Posted by Brandon Vancleeve


For most of 2015, Pine Cove has been discussing the changes taking place with E-Rate 2.0. Most of our E-Rate schools and clients have become aware of how the new model affects their budget and are taking advantage of the changes.

At the beginning of November, Pine Cove hosted a webinar with Sophos representatives to clarify changes to E-Rate 2.0 for the upcoming year, and what services Sophos has to offer qualified schools.

This Webinar is about 59 minutes long — if this is to long to watch, you can read through the summary below.

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Want a refresh on E-Rate 2.0? Read our posts here!

Below is an overview of what Sophos had to say.

You can find a blog recapping E-Rate changes here.

What are Sophos Components available with E-Rate?

  • Firewall Hardware – many different models and options. 
  • Network Protection Updates – IPS, pattern updates, DoS/Flood Protection, SSL VPN and remote access, advanced routing, WAN load-balancing, and detailed network protection reporting.
  • Wireless –Sophos Firewall is the wireless controller.
    • Add wireless APs for coverage.
    • Configure security policies specific to each zone.
  • Support – Offers 24/7, 365 day support with advance next business day replacement.

Firewall Components for Security:

  • Routing
  • Email Security
  • Web Filtering
  • Intrusion Prevention System
  • Threat Engine
  • Proxy
  • Selective Sandbox
  • Application Control
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • ATP Detection
  • Security Heartbeat

Sophos Firewall Interface at a Glance

A new interface was released on the 9th of November. The new interface involves a better user experience, clean, intuitive dashboard that makes for easy navigation and analytics for users, and detailed reporting on any criteria.

Important Applications:

Security Heartbeat

Sophos Security Heartbeat

Security Heartbeat is a brand new application with the new interface. Its main function is to connect endpoint security clients to the firewall.

  • Communicates and sends findings to the firewall.
  • Health status changes to warn users.
  • The only company in the industry that does this.

User Threat Quotient

  • Reporting that shows who the “problem children” (high-risk web users) are.

Built-in policy templates

  • User friendly
  • For common business applications

Easy evaluation modes to test out Firewall


SG Series Models  

SG series models

  • No matter which model you use, the firmware, functionality and features are the same.
  • The only difference in models is that they are tailored to how much throughput you need.

Central Management: Two options 

Central Managment

  • On Prem & Cloud
  • Sophos iView 2

Introducing: Sophos Cloud Endpoint

Endpoints are a line item on your budget. Not only can you use Sophos to protect your network and everything surrounding, but Sophos also offers endpoint security. Once you use a portion of E-Rate’s Category 2 budget to get your wireless and firewall taken care of, you’ll want to protect all components surrounding security.

Sophos users who buy Firewall and endpoint security receive bundling discounts, which can also help free up budget money.
 improve threat detection

Why does Pine Cove think Sophos is the best solution for our schools?

Dan Russell concluded with a short explanation on why Pine Cove has partnered with Sophos for so long, and why we think Sophos is the best option for our clients. It’s this simple: "Sophos has the best user experience, interface, and central control system for wireless protection, network protection and now endpoint security."

What Should you do Next?

  1. Get in contact with one of your Erate Consultants if you have further questions or need advice or check out the usac erate page  Pine Cove are NOT Erate Consultants
  1. Request Firewall Hardware, Network Protection, Wireless Software, Wireless Apps and Support on your next E-Rate Submission.
  1. Remember to use Pine Cove Consulting for the installation process. Our experts make for seamless technology transitions.
  1. Contact Pine Cove. We can help scope Sophos Solutions or for any other E-Rate related questions contact Brandon Vancleeve at


Want to learn more about E-Rate Changes? Click Below

E-rate 2.0 changes

Topics: E-Rate

It’s Official: FCC Approves $1.5 Billion E-Rate Funding Cap Increase

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

The FCC voted 3-2 for the $1.5 billion increase on December 11th, a plan that hopes to expand schools’ and libraries’ access to high-speed internet capabilities. For so many schools this area has been neglected, and it has started to cripple their ability to teach in our technologically advanced era. 

While E-rate funding has been held at a stagnant $2.25 billion for more than a decade, history was made with the approved increase for schools and libraries. The overall spending cap has moved from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion per year. The increased funding for the program, along with the necessary E-rate changes, are going to help schools and the program focus its attention on modern technologies. E-rate, led by FCC Chairman Wheeler, is now the third largest source of federal funding for schools.

Your Pine Cove Consultants, along with other advocates of the new funding, are hoping for the change to close the technology gap within schools- and especially rural schools like Montana and Wyoming where funding can be scarce.
Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a statement that the funding boost reflects a "national commitment to educational excellence and equity."

"A solid technology infrastructure in schools places a world of knowledge, expertise and resources at students’ fingertips, and empowers students to develop and practice the skills they will need to meet the high standards for college and career readiness states are currently implementing," Bartoletti continued. "Reliable broadband access is an essential complement to the connected leadership principals provide in schools across the nation."

Bartoletti said it best, and PCC could not be more excited to help our clients utilize this free funding. What do you need to do next besides take advantage of this opportunity for your school? Apply!

An overview of rules as stated by the FCC:

  • Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium. 
  • Funding may be requested under two categories of service: category one services to a school or library (telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access), and category two services that deliver Internet access within schools and libraries (internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services).
  • Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is located in an urban or rural area. The discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services. 
  • E-rate program funding is based on demand up to an annual Commission-established cap of about $2.4 billion (now changed to $3.9 billion).

The E-rate program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the direction of the FCC. Specifically, USAC is responsible for processing the applications for support, confirming eligibility, and reimbursing service providers and eligible schools and libraries for the discounted services. USAC also ensures that the applicants and service providers comply with the E-rate rules and procedures established by the Commission. Need more e-rate consulting? Call your Pine Cove Consultants!

For more information on the FCC go to

Want to read more about Priority 1 and 2 changes? 


E-Rate 2.0 - General Changes
E-Rate Changes to Priority 2
E-Rate changes to Priority 1

Topics: E-Rate

E-Rate Changes to Priority 2

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

E-RATE 2.0 Changes to Priority 2

Erate Priority 2 Changes

  • The Priority 2 name will be changed to Category 2. 
  • Category 2 funds Wi-Fi and related infrastructure/equipment. As said before, Category 1 services will be funded first. 
  • If not enough erate funding is available to cover an entire discount, pro-ration will be applied. The NSLP percentage will be used. 
  • The annual budget target of $1 billion minimum will be used.
  • Not all applicants will be funded the year they apply, and there is no revision to allow applicants to spend funds and be reimbursed on a later year. 
  • The FCC plans to reach 10 million students between the years 2015-2019. Schools and libraries will have access to Category 2 funding every 5 years.

Discount Matrix Erate Changes
The maximum Category 2 discount will be changed from 90% to 85%. All other discounts will remain the same.

Discount Matrix Changes

Funding Budgets
Each school building can apply for a pre-discount cap (over a 5-year contract):

  • $150 per student
  • Min. building cap of $9,200

Money will be allocated per building, not on a district-wide basis. Applicants will not be able to move funding from one school to another, however, funding may be requested over five years or applied for in a single year. As said before, annual application is required- and funding approval is subject to available funds each year.

If an applicant requests less than the maximum budget per building in a single year, the applicant may request remaining balance in the following years of the five-year cycle. All competitive bidding requirements will continue to apply, and applicants can still only apply for what they need.

Eligibility Changes
In 2015, Erate Category 2 eligible services will become focused on Wi-Fi, building infrastructure, and networking. Certain equipment and services will be permanently eligible, and other equipment and services will be eligible for 2015/2016, but might end unless FCC chooses to extend its eligibility.

Ineligible equipment:

  • Voice components
  • Video components
  • Most servers

Permanently eligible equipment:

  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Wireless Access Points
  • Internal Cabling
  • Racks
  • Wireless Controller Systems
  • Firewall Services
  • UPS Equipment
  • Software to Support Eligible Equipment
  • Cloud-Based Functionality of this Equipment

Eligible equipment for 2015/2016:

  • Caching functionality- necessary software or equipment
  • Managed Internal Broadband Services (MIBS)-Including managed Wi-Fi
  • Basic maintenance services for eligible equipment
  • Applicants are allowed to apply for up to $30 per year per student for these services and agree to a 5-year budget
  • Unless eligibility is extended, these items will lose eligibility at the end of 2016, with the exception of applicants receiving funding approval in 2015/2016 will continue funding for 2017-2019

New Schools
New schools will estimate the number of students who will be attending, and will receive funding based on the estimate. However, if an applicant overestimates enrollment, they must return to USAC by the end of the next funding year for funding changes.

Early Installation
Eligible equipment may be purchased and/or installed on or after April 1st before the beginning of the funding year. This provides the maximum amount of time during the summer to complete the installation.

Disbursements will not be made until July 1st or later. Applicants will not be able to apply for retroactive funding for equipment purchased and installed in years prior to the funding year. 

Learn more about Category 1 changes here. To speak to one of our partnering erate consultants, call us!

Topics: E-Rate

E-Rate changes to Priority 1

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

E-RATE 2.0 Changes to priority 1

Erate 2.0: Changes to Priority 1 

  • First, the Priority 1 name will be changed to Category 1.
  • E-rate Category 1 funds broadband connectivity and internet access to buildings
  • Category 1 will be funded before Category 2 e-rate funding. This is to make sure that all Category 1 funds will be covered with the available budget. 

Ineligible Services
Beginning in 2015, paging, webhosting, telephone service components, and email will no longer be available.

  • All voice services will be phased out by 20% each year
  • Voice services include: cellular voice, local and long distance, PRI and hosted VoIP services. 
  • Voice services will be completely ineligible starting in 2019. Cell data and mobile broadband are subject to cost-effective inquiry. 

Phase-Out Schedule of Voice Services: 

Category 1 Voice Phase out schedule

Wireless Data Plans
1. Buildings with Wi-Fi access are no longer eligible for cellular data plans or mobile broadband services.
2. Buildings without Wi-Fi are eligible for these services, but only if the individual data plans are the most cost-effective option for providing internal broadband access.

  • They also must prove that either installing a WLAN is not physically possible, or provide comparisons of the costs of individual data plans vs. installing a WLAN solution.

Districts should be prepared for extensive cost review from PIA. Library bookmobiles are an exception to additional review.

Bid Exemptions
Commercial broadband and internet packages costing less than $300 per month, per building (at a pre-discount) are now exempt from the Form470 competitive bidding requirements for 2015.

  • The minimum speed must be 100 Mbps downstream, and 10 Mbps upstream. The cost must be based per building and cannot be averages of multiple buildings. 
  • The annual cost of $3,600 must include all equipment and installation charges as well as monthly recurring charges. 
  • A Form 471 must be submitted for funding every year. 

Bundled Equipment Limitations
Beginning in 2015, equipment is not allowed to be bundled at no cost with an eligible service. This includes free cell phones, iPads or tablets, and VoIP equipment.

Applicants are required to perform a cost allocation to remove the value of the ineligible equipment from the pre-discount price.

Want to know about Erate Category 2 changes? Here is our blog for changes HERE.

E-Rate 2.0 Flyer

Topics: E-Rate

E-Rate 2.0 - General Changes

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

E-Rate 2.0 Overview of Changes

With the 1st year of E-Rate 2.0 completed, we are updating our information from what we've seen and learned over the past year to help inform school districts, libraries and providers on how to best leverage funding for the 16/17 year. We've added a quick summary to our blog of how the 1st year went for E-Rate 2.0. 

The Good: 

  1. All Levels Funded: All discount levels funded for Category 2. For the 1st time in the history of E-Rate, all funding levels were funded for Category 2 services. These services include; Firewalls, switches, wireless, cabling, caching servers and 3rd party support
  2. Processing Time Increased: Timeline of funding was dramatically increased as schools began receiving funding shortly after the July 1st deadline.
  3. Early Bird Option: USAC allowed districts to began acquiring equipment on April 1st. This allowed schools to get ahead of the game to ensure their upgrades were completed before the 2015/16 school year started. 

The Bad:

  1. Dividing the Dollar: Although the $150/student formula is a good start, we still believe this doesn't scale down to the smaller rural schools like it should. Technology costs per student are not flat as consolidation and economy of scale allows larger school districts to spread this money further.
  2. Phone Service Reduction: The continued reduction in phone services covered in Category 1 create funding challenges for districts that have counted on that discount for years.
  3. Per Student Cap for High Discount Applicants: For those high NSLP (Free and Reduced Lunch Count) districts that have been routinely taking advantage of Category 2 funding in the past did not have a per student cap. This cap has drastically reduced how much funding these districts could take advantage of.

Watch our most recent Webinar about E-Rate in 2016!


 With the new year coming up, changes are being made to the 2016 E-Rate funding, newly called E-Rate 2.0. Along with these new changes are new rules and changes in features for schools. We are really hoping to utilize this funding for many of our clients, especially in the Priority 2 category. 

FCC Proposed Erate Changes
Back in December of 2013, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) appointed Tom Wheeler as Chairman. He was determined to make changes to E-Rate and better the funding procedures. By March of this year, the FCC sent out a public notice looking for feedback on proposed E-Rate changes. In July 11th of this year the FCC voted to adopt proposed E-Rate reforms.
We have provided a series of information to help you better understand the new aspects of E-Rate funding.

New Funding Model
$2 billion have been implemented over the next two funding years. This is a very exciting injection for the program, and it will be used to install and manage Wi-Fi in the nation’s schools and libraries. Funding will be distributed at a pre-discount rate of $150 per student over a five-year period contract for schools. For libraries, there will be a pre-discount rate of $2.30 per square foot. This is the biggest change going on with the new E-Rate rules. This funding model will be a two-year trial, and if it is not successful, the FCC will re-examine the program.
Another new aspect is that managed services will also be eligible for funding under E-Rate 2.0. Each district can use $30 of the $150 discount rate per year, per student up to five years. Managed Services are especially essential for the small districts who have limited staff and struggle with managing IT systems.

Discounts for Libraries
Another great aspect in E-Rate funding changes are more funding for libraries. The discount for libraries work like this:
• Library systems with multiple branches in one public school district:
o Will use the address of the central outlet or main administrative office in order to        determine which district the system is in.
• When applying as library system:
o Use the school district’s discount application to the central outlet or main office.

Decreases in Voice Services
On the downside to new funding, the money will be moving to other places. Some Priority 1 services will no longer be considered essential for broadband connectivity and will no longer be eligible to receive. Because E-Rate 2.0 is increasing funding for Wi-Fi support with equipment and LAN, the FCC has limited funding for voice services. Support for all voice services, including VoIP, will decrease by 20% each year until each applicant’s support is phased out, starting in 2015.

Want to know more details of Ineligible services? Click Here!

Long-Term Advantages
Although voice services are unfortunately losing funding, the FCC is increasing funding in other areas. A very exciting new feature is that all schools will have access to Priority 2 funding. As said before, there is a $1 billion annual fund for Wi-Fi equipment, and on top of the $150 per student budget, there is also $9,200 per building minimum. This ensures that no applicant will receive disproportional funding. They will also be implementing streamlining procedures in order to make the application process easier.

The FCC is hoping the new budget will increase better connectivity with internet, WAN connections, and internal connections.

Internet Connectivity Goals for Schools
The short-term goal of internet connectivity for schools is to have 1 Gbps access per 1,000 users. The long-term goal of connectivity is to have at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users. The measurement will be at the district level for school districts, and at the school level for schools not part of a district.

Priority 1 and 2 Specific Changes will be discussed here: Priority 1 | Priority 2
Questions? Call a Pine Cove Consultant! We are here to make your life easier by answering any specific questions you might have, and giving all the information you need in order to get started with E-Rate funding.

Pine Cove cannot be of any assistance in helping you to fill out your form 470, nor provide any information that could in any way affect the competitive bidding process. 

E-Rate 2.0 Slide Share

Topics: E-Rate

ShoreTel Sky Communications and E-Rate

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Shoretel Sky

About ShoreTel Sky

We know cloud-based technology is the new way of the future, and a new aspect of this is VoIP (voice over internet protocol) vendors such as ShoreTel Sky. ShoreTel Sky provides a practical solution for large companies in particular.

Why does ShoreTel provide so well for large enterprises? Because they break them down into four categories:

  • Core phone system: Provides basic functionality that allows companies to present a professional image to callers.
  • Unified communications: They add a variety of features beyond voice that improve internal communication for employees. They include IM, video conference, mobile apps, presence detection, and collaboration tools such as screen and file sharing.
  • Application integration: gives employees access to information about customers and partners through interfaces to different automated systems and applications. They include CRM, ERP, and applicant tracking software.
  • Contact center: provides capabilities for answering, routing, queuing and dealing with customer calls effectively.

ShoreTel also includes a range of software and devices for employees to access, such as a “communicator” software- a graphical onscreen dashboard that lets users customize functions; a mobile app for Iphones, Android, and BlackBerry devices, an iOS device dock for iPhones and iPads linked to the mobile app; and a range of ShoreTel IP desk phones for multiple or one-line calls.

Why do we care about ShoreTel Sky?

Here at Pine Cove, we are dedicated to find the best products for our clients. ShoreTel Sky is a part of a new, innovative calling system, and better yet, they are part of the E-Rate program.
Eligible E-Rate participants include public and non-profit K-12 schools, as well as all public and most private libraries. For schools with financial problems, this program helps schools get more for much less.

There are two funding priorities with specific categories of eligible services:

Priority 1

  • Telecommunications Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Internet Access

Priority 2

  • Internal Connections
  • Basic maintenance of internal connections

Priority 1 services are funded first, and VoIP services such as ShoreTel Sky are eligible as Priority 1- under Telecommunications Services or Internet Access.

We are dedicated to helping you find the best possible products at the best discount, and we are excited to see services like ShoreTel Sky able to be part of these helpful programs.

E-Rate’s Review of ShoreTel Sky

E-Rate chose ShoreTel Sky as the #1 VoIP service. Here’s why:

ShoreTel is the only vendor with a pure IP telephony solution built as a completely integrated VoIP solution. ShoreTel designed a solution that works and is easy to use.

ShoreTel has won industry award for their VoIP solution 4 years in a row. They have received the highest ratings for quality, reliability and end-user satisfaction.

ShoreTel is based on a unique distributed architecture. Shoretel is a fully distributed IP telephony system, a single image system across the world, with complete feature transparency.

All sites receive the same features and functionality regardless of size. Whether there are 2 or 200 phones, the platform will work the same.

Extra features and functionality are included.

Easy to use, and industry-leader in Customer Satisfaction.

Why Schools Use ShoreTel

ShoreTel claims to be an experienced E-Rate service provider, and takes managing and maintaining the system off clients’ shoulders.

  • ShoreTel is fully managed for schools and libraries.
  • They become the one-stop phone system provider and telecommunications carrier, meaning one predictable invoice every month.
  • ShoreTel provides a customized experience that works best for their clients.
  • They have exceptional quality and reliability, making sure you have the best sound quality for your calls.

What We Can Do

As your technology service provider, we try to help you find the best solutions for your school. We are dedicated to making sure you have the best programs at the best price. Using E-Rate and its programs as a discount for your school is an ideal way to receive the best new technology at a lower price. Interested in whether or not you apply for priority 1 or priority 2 discounts? Interested in ShoreTel Sky? Contact your Pine Cove Consultants! We want to make sure that school districts can receive the benefits they want in their financial budget.

Topics: cloud, E-Rate

Find out how your peers are using Cisco Meraki

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Cisco Meraki cloud networking was built for the demands of education. 100% Cloud Managed WiFi, switching and security that enables a BYOD, high-density classroom WiFi, tablet and video environment.

If you are currently supporting a 1:1 or BYOD district wide initiative or looking to implement one, Cisco Meraki offers plug-and-play installation for rapid district-wide deployments with minimal support. Web-based centralized management provides intuitive visibility and control, without training or adding staff.

Cisco Meraki access points support high-density WiFi and includes 100% free integrated MDM for devices like tablets and netbooks. It provides complete visibility into the users, applications, and devices on your network.

iPads and Android tablets are taking campuses by storm. But with the right tools, tablets need not burden IT. The Cisco Meraki line provides a complete solution to create a simple, reliable, and secure environment for iPads:

  • Cisco Meraki wireless access points are optimized for dense classroom environments.
  • Scalable, cost-effective Ethernet switches are ultra-reliable and easy to manage.
  • Feature-rich security appliances provide easy-to-manage content filtering, web caching, and security.
  • Free cloud-based mobile device management enables secure, manageable iPad deployments.
  • Intuitive cloud-based management is easy to use without training or dedicated staff.
  • The Cisco Meraki cloud architecture saves 50% over traditional networking solutions.

Meraki's cloud networking solution is ideal, providing performance and manageability at a fraction of the cost and complexity of traditional solutions. Meraki networks simply work. Intelligent, cloud managed WiFi, routing and security that is scalable. You get all the benefits and features of an advanced WiFi solution with out the cost to deploy more IT staff to build your network.

Find out how your peers are using Cisco Meraki, by signing up for one of their upcoming K-12 webinars:

New Call-to-Action

March 12 at 10am PT
High Density K-12 Network Usage at Conestoga Valley School District

March 25 at 9am PT
Managing Highly Dispersed Schools at Beaufort Delta Education Council

April 17 at 10am PT
Providing Unified Wired and Wireless Network Management at The Rock Church & Academy

Check out their website for other webinars and feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Benefit: *Click here for the free Cisco Meraki access point eligibility details. If you are unable to accept a free access point due to restrictions, like E-Rate, you can take advantage of this Meraki trial access point offer.

Or, if you have questions, just call us at

Topics: networking, E-Rate

The window to file your E-Rate 470 application was closed Feb 27th

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

 fatbeam blog resized 600

While the education sector is long on initiatives, 1:1, BYOD, ConnectEd and Common Core to name a few, it always seems to be short on funding. Putting the most advanced technology in the hands of our students and teachers to be used as tools to improve student outcomes is ideal, but expensive. The only thing more expensive is the realization that your district does not have the infrastructure in place to support the bandwidth requirements of these new learning tools. Experts still say that fiber-optic cable is the “gold standard” for providing schools with high-speed connections to the Internet. Before you put today's technology in the hands of your students, invest in tomorrow’s infrastructure.

The President's ConnectEd initiative has made more funds available to the E-Rate program than ever before. The window to file your E-Rate 470 application was closed on February 26th 2014. Don't miss out on an amazing opportunity to leverage the federal E-Rate program to finance dedicated broadband access for your school district. The fiber optic bandwidth provided by a new district wide network, begins at 1GB Ethernet, extending to 400GB and jumping to dark fiber.

Sound too good to be true? Fatbeam, has set its eyes on doing just this. By partnering with school districts, to leverage the federal E-Rate program, Fatbeam can provide real bandwidth in rural markets benefiting not only the schools but the community at large. The company targets communities with populations between 20,000 and 100,000, where the incumbent carrier has not made a significant infrastructure investment.

Butte School District, in Butte, MT is a great example of this partnership. As part of a 10-year contract, the Butte district will pay to lease the new “lit” fiber for a total of $14,000 per month. Sixty one percent of which will be covered by federal E-rate funds. The local college, library, and government facilities will receive similar service. By utilizing Fatbeam with E-Rate funds, the Butte District was able to dramatically increase it's bandwidth while cutting its bill in half. Fatbeam has done similar work in 19 markets across Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

Fatbeam, is a Competitive Access Provider delivering data transport services to customers in underserved markets of the Western U.S. The company installs fiber throughout smaller markets such as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Yakima, Washington, after first obtaining a commitment from the local school district to use the fiber. The company also makes sure to connect to the closest Internet point of presence and runs fiber through the towns’ business district. Then they sell connectivity on a wholesale basis to other providers, who use the infrastructure to deliver Internet service and in some cases to support fiber-to-the-home deployments.

With a dedicated Fatbeam network, you will have access to the "gold standard" of connectivity, which will exceed your bandwidth needs. This removes one major obstacle on the road to using technology as a tool to change a student’s trajectory, by ensuring there are no limits on the pace of which each student can learn.

Topics: 1:1 computing, BYOD, E-Rate

The ConnectEd initiative helping rural schools like you!

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Obama ConnectEd initiative

President Obama speaks about high-tech education at the State of the Union address. | Source: YouTube

The ConnectEd initiative is making progress via huge contributions from both the private and public sectors. On February 3rd, Apple, AT&T, Autodesk, Microsoft, O’Reilly Media, Sprint and Verizon committed funding, hardware and software contributions to the initiative of more than $750 million.  A day later it was announced that the FCC will increase E-Rate support for broadband networks by $2 billion over the next two years while the Department of Agriculture will add another $10 million in grants.


  • American companies are answering the President’s challenge to “dig deep” in support of ConnectED to enrich K-12 education, expand opportunities for students, and train, a 21st century workforce.
  • These commitments include:
  • Apple – Pledged $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged schools.
  • AT&T – Pledged over $100 million to provide middle-school students free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three years.
  • Autodesk – Pledged to expand the company’s “Design the Future” program to be available to every secondary school in the country – offering for free over $250 million in value.
  • Microsoft – Committed to launch a substantial affordability program open to all U.S. public schools by deeply discounting the price of its Windows operating system, which will substantially bring down the cost of Windows-based devices.
  • O’Reilly Media – Partnering with Safari Books Online to make over $100 million in educational content and tools available, for free, to every school in America.
  • Sprint – Committed to offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million.
  • Verizon – Announced a multi-year program to support the ConnectED vision through up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments.

  • A $2 billion down-payment by the FCC’s E-Rate program to connect 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless, beginning in 2014.
  • An additional commitment to rural schools with over $10 million in distance learning grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The goal of ConnectEd is to transform and modernize the teaching and learning experience across the nation by ensuring that 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband and the tools that go with it by 2017.  The initiative doesn’t stop with access, ConnectEd will also invest in training and support for every educator in America to ensure they have the confidence to use technology to create an engaging learning experience that will help improve student outcomes.
The ConnectEd initiative is a collaborative effort by our government and our titans of technological (the companies who have created the technology most of us enjoy today).  While funding that has been made available is a huge leap in the right direction, the responsibility of planning falls squarely on the shoulders of each district.  In order to ensure that you are maximizing the return on your E-Rate dollars your school district will need to have a well thought out technology implementation plan.  You should take the long-term view of your district, its growth rate, the end goal for the student experience and how quickly you want to get there.  You’ll want to partner with a team that understands your current technology situation and will listen to your goals for technology in your district.

As your partner, Pine Cove Consulting will guarantee the solution we provide today is aligned with the vision you have of your district in the future.  We are an IT consulting company with twenty years of experience working with school districts to implement their technology plans.  We can access and help you plan and implement a technology solution that will ensure your teachers and students benefit. 

Topics: E-Rate