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E-Rate: What You May Not Know About the Program

For IT network operators and administrative leaders of schools and libraries across the United States, facilitating enhanced digital learning is a necessity today. In fact, 53% of teachers say students use digital technology tools to learn daily, according to a study by Gallup.

To meet the steadily increasing demands on your network, the E-Rate program is an invaluable funding resource. Although the process can be a bit of an uphill climb, the right technology partner will help you obtain the funds and utilize them to optimize your learning environment.

This 2022-2023 school year, when you’re running up that hill (and perhaps reminiscing over bygone pre-Internet days while watching a certain coming-of-age sci-fi drama), take a few moments to check out these updates. We’ve compiled some relevant information to help bolster you through your E-Rate journey.

Important Updates to E-Rate

Since its establishment back in 1998, E-Rate has undergone several significant changes, most recently:

2021 Category 2 Changes

This Order adopted a permanent Category 2 budget system for all applicants, with streamlined Category 2 rules.

  • 2021 Funding Allocation: Budgets are now calculated for the entire district, and the maximum discount that can be received for Category 2 is still 85%.
  • 2022 Funding Cap: For this year’s E-Rate funding period of July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, the new funding cap of $4,456,460,992 is a 4.2% increase and takes inflation into account, based on the gross domestic product chain-type price index, provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Eligible and Ineligible Products and Services

According to the most recent update, all equipment and services, including maintenance and operation, must be competitively bid. Eligibility by category includes:

Category 1 

Products and services for data transmission and/or internet access services, including:

  • Monthly charges for maintenance and operation
  • Special construction
  • Installation and activation charges
  • Network Equipment (defined as modulating electronics and other equipment necessary to make a Category 1 broadband service functional)

Category 2 

Internal connections, managed internal broadband, services, and basic maintenance of internal connections, including Extreme products such as:

  • Switches
  • Switching fan modules, power supply modules, and cables
  • Necessary core, connectivity, and subscription licenses
  • Fabric Technology for simple adds, moves, and changes
  • High performance wired backhaul, cross-platform stacking, embedded application controls
  • Hot swappable power supply and fans

Ineligible Products

As online technology advances, the need for hardware declines. As such, the following items are no longer eligible:

  • End-user equipment, PCs, mobile devices, projectors, peripherals
  • Video and telephony equipment
  • Server infrastructure (excluding caching)
  • Non-critical infrastructure
  • Advanced security, content/spam/virus filtering, physical security, management/monitoring
  • Extended or upgraded warranties

Bridging the Gap

Do all of these changes have you feeling like you’re about to enter the upside-down? You’re not alone. School administrators and IT network operators everywhere face time and budget constraints on their ability to dedicate staff on this complex endeavor, not to mention finding staff who have the necessary experience and expertise.

If that’s not enough, per recent updates, unspent funds from one five year funding cycle will not roll over to the next, making it more important than ever to put every dollar to use every year.

You know you need to improve your network in order to meet the increasing demands placed on it and to provide a better digital learning experience. You also know E-Rate funding can help, but the process can be a bit overwhelming.  Fortunately, the incline is much more scalable when you have the right technology partner to balance the load.

Wondering where and how to find such a network provider? Let’s exchange the experience…

Secure the Right Partner with Extreme Networks

To successfully navigate the E-Rate process and provide the right tools for online learning, you need network solutions that optimize the student learning environment while improving your administration’s management capabilities for better planning, organization, and coordination between faculty, students, and families.

You may not be aware that Extreme Networks has all the eligible networking products on the E-Rate program list, along with a dedicated team to help you every step of the way. Our E-Rate eligible solutions ensure a reliably fast, secure, user-friendly, and high-performing network via:

High Density, Pervasive Wi-Fi Connectivity:  

Extreme offers highly scalable, seamless, and secure mobile Wi-Fi connectivity. Flexible deployment options include on-premises, private, and public cloud. Most importantly, it simplifies the E-Rate filing process via subscription licensing and integrated hardware.

Wired Edge and Backhaul:     

Our fabric technology allows for simple additions, moves, and changes to your setup, thanks to high-performance wired backhaul, cross-platform stacking, and embedded application controls. These features help make it the most scalable and resilient cloud-driven network management tool.

Reliable Customer Services and Support:                             

Our Global Technical Assistance Center is there to provide help 24/7/365 with 100% insourced support. And you can customize your level of service according to your school’s needs.

Across the country, educational institutes of all sizes, locations, and demographics are taking advantage of the network with the adaptability and resiliency to help teachers and students climb steadily upward. But flourishing in today’s online-driven scholastic environment doesn’t require a deal to swap out places – it just takes a partnership with Extreme Networks. We’ll get you running up that hill with no problems.

To take a more in depth look at how to build a solid network and delve deeper into the world of E-Rate, check out our eBook, The Essential Guide to E-Rate 2023 Program Success.

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