This may be your last chance to affordably modernize and future-proof your communications/collaboration systems.
The recently announced E-rate overhaul was overdue. In years past the e-rate system provided funding for internet and voice access to the school building (Category 1 services), but didn’t help with distribution of these services to students and staff in many districts (Category 2 products and services). Balance was missing. Both Category 1 and Category Two technologies are necessary to get the job done. In the early years e-rate provided both. Lately? Not so much.
To state the challenge in simple terms, there is too much demand and not enough funding. Any fix would need to include more funding, less support or a combination of both. I understand there is significant effort in Washington to secure additional funding, but reduction in support will be necessary until these additional funds are a reality.
According to the FCC order, “(In recent years) voice service requests comprised one-third of all funding commitments.” Also noted in the order: “Voice services, while important for schools and libraries, are not as essential as high-speed broadband is for meeting the educational needs of students and library patrons.”
Clearly, removing voice services from eligibility would relieve financial pressure.
So, voice services will be phased out. This will happen at a rate of 20% per year. Here is an illustration of how this reduction will take place.
So here’s your takeaway: Make your move to Interconnected Voice over IP (IVoIP) this year. This is a Category 1–eligible service, and federal financial support will decline. Each year a district or school waits, there will be fewer dollars available to help with the initial costs. NWN can design, implement and support Hosted Voice solutions that will modernize and future-proof your communications. With the current level of Federal help with initial costs, the school’s residual financial commitment is typically lower than antiquated Centrex systems. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.