Have you ever thought about utilizing E-rate as a means to help your school or district purchase technology? If so, you've likely heard about the upside of E-rate and the challenges faced in securing discounts. In this space we will answer, at a very high level, the question, "What is E-rate and how I can use it?" Many educational technology decision makers have found success in understanding the process by focusing on one solution and how E-rate works in the pursuit of that solution. In this post we will use VMware View as an example to show how one manufacturer's solution can successfully intertwine with E-rate funding. Let's start with the big picture.
What is E-rate?
The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as “E-rate,” is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It helps schools and libraries in the United States by providing discounts to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.
Does E-rate work to help fund all technology?
No. As mentioned above, the purpose of E-Rate is to assist with telecommunications and internet access. However, as technology has become more agile and virtual, E-rate has evolved with the technology. For example, virtualization software is now eligible for an E-rate discount as a server-based, shared product when used for an E-rate eligible function, such as email and networking.
Armed with this very basic understanding of E-rate and what we can use it for, let's dive deeper. Let's say your school district is already considering a move to one-to-one computing. End-user workstation functionality (physical or virtual) is ineligible for E-rate discounts. However, virtual desktop infrastructure does contain some eligible functionality in the form of virtual switching, routing and network interfaces. For example, some components of Virtualization can be E-rate eligible on the basis of its eligible network infrastructure functionality. So, in this case E-rate can help with one-to-one computing. VMware View is an example of a one-to-one computing solution that can be used in this manner. To download a PDF with more information about VMware View (and other E-rate eligible solutions from VMware) click HERE. In this scenario, E-rate can indeed be used to help the district pursue one-to-one computing.
Technology manufacturers will also work closely with your IT team and provide information to help you find solutions that meet your needs AND your desire to secure funds for learning via E-rate. As they are obviously on the forefront of the technology, they also are the most current on how their own technology intertwines with E-rate. All you have to do is ask!
We've only scratched the surface of the possibilities of how E-rate can help your learning institution. If you see the potential and would like to learn more about how E-rate could fit into YOUR technology picture, go HERE and download the whitepaper about VMware E-rate.