The FCC stated in July of 2014 that they wish to significantly expand funding for Wi-Fi networks and distribute it fairly to all schools and libraries while recognizing the needs of the nation’s rural and poorest school districts. In years past, this was a P2-funded technology. How will they accomplish this? How will this program facilitate broadband access? How can they ensure E-Rate will remain viable for years to come?
The FCC released an order on July 23, 2014 outlining the changes that are to begin in the coming funding year. As a district, what will be the best strategies to get the most out of the new, modernized E–Rate program?
Robust, enterprise-class communications tools allow your students and staff to open up learning beyond the classroom and even beyond the campus. Make your move to interconnected voice over IP (IVoIP) as soon as possible.
2. Future Proof
Hosted and as-a-service offerings future-proof these technologies as they update throughout the contract term. Leveraging federal funds for the initial costs (installation, activation, and initial configuration, etc.) will be to your advantage.
3. Think Ahead
Create a five-year plan for broadband internal connections including wiring, routing, switching, firewall technology, caching, and especially Wi-Fi. Be sure to consider costs of maintenance for these “internal connections.”
Dedicate your internal IT Team to the district’s core technologies. Look for opportunities to contract with managed services companies who can provide excellent service for supporting technologies. Seek out cloud-based and as-a-service offerings to keep your team focused on strategic initiatives.
5. Use the Technology
If end users don’t know features exist or don’t know how to access them, they will rarely be used. Be sure to train end users to leverage these technologies.
Excellent technology, future-proofing through use of hosted and as-a-service offerings, careful planning, and focusing the work of your internal IT staff will create an environment where the district can excel with the new E-Rate program.
NWN has provided products and services to K-12 schools throughout the 18-year history of E-Rate. We see excellent opportunities for districts in this modernization of the program. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have.