Funding | News

E-Rate Funding 'Critical' Yet Underfunded, Survey Finds

The vast majority of E-rate applicants think that the program is not adequately funded and that it's "critical to their success," according to a report released this week.

E-rate is a program run by the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company. It provides discounts to private and public schools and libraries for Internet and telecommunication services. Eligibility requirements include location and economic need.

The 2012 National Survey of E-rate Applicants, released by compliance firm Funds for Learning, was conducted over two months to gather information about E-rate priorities. There were 636 respondents, and 434 provided statistical information about their schools or libraries.

"The technology needs of schools have evolved and the increased demand for funds is essential to delivering instruction to today's students. We believe that it is critical to share this feedback with the E-rate community and the FCC," said Cathy Cruzan, president of Funds For Learning.

Findings of the survey include:

  • Broadband Internet access is the most important E-rate service according to 42 percent of participants;
  • Ninety percent said funding by E-rate is "critical to their success";
  • Seventy percent responded that E-rate does not provide enough funding;
  • Forty percent said their Internet is inadequate; and
  • Almost 90 percent said their needs will grow as they plan to launch new e-book and bring-your-own-device programs.

The survey also found that applicants value predictability and amount of funding more than flexibility and speed. Sixty-two percent concluded that funding flexibility was least important of the four areas of predictability, amount, speed, and flexibility.

In addition, the survey shows that schools and libraries are planning to increase wireless deployments. Forty-two percent of respondents reported that over the next three years wireless access points will be the most important technology initiative, as opposed to 39 percent for WAN/Internet, 14 percent for cabling, and five percent for off-campus access.

Nine percent of respondents also said they believe their telephony infrastructure is ready for the future, 10 percent for data infrastructure, and 15 percent for wide area network.

For complete results, visit fundsforlearning.com, or usac.org.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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