California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 37, No. 4
June-July, 1997

Telecommunications Discounts for Schools, Libraries Approved

WestEd News Service

Schools and libraries will receive technology discounts totaling up to $2.25 billion annually, thanks to a unanimous May 7 vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) accepting the bipartisan recommendation of its Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. Under this recommendation, schools and libraries will be eligible for discounts on telecommunication services (such as phone service), internal connections (bringing technology into classrooms), and Internet access. These discounts will range from 20% to 90%, depending on poverty and geographic location. The average discount is expected to be 60%. Secretary Riley called it “a day to celebrate” while pointing out that approval of the E-rate is not only “a great opportunity, but also a great responsibility.... We must show that it really makes a difference in the classroom, and that means helping students to learn the basics and other core subjects to high standards.” (For the Secretary’s full statement, as well as the Vice President’s remarks, please see: http://www.ed.gov/news.html#pr and http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/WhiteHouse.html)

Over the next few months, the Department will work with the education community, the private sector, and the fund administrator to develop an easy-to-use application process for schools and libraries seeking the discounts. Details on the application process, which could begin as early as this fall, will appear here in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, schools and libraries may prepare for it by assessing their current resources and future needs, and developing and refining their own technology plans.

The FCC is offering 2 listservs for updates and communicating with other educators about ways telecommunications can be used to improve learning (http://www.fcc.gov/learnnet or ). PBS offered a videoconference on June 3 from 1-2:30 (Eastern time), “Maximizing Your E-Rate: Making the Most of New Telecommunications Discounts for Schools and Libraries.” For more information, please see: http://www.pbs.org/learn/als/programs/live/erate.html (or call PBS at 1-800-257-2578).

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