Report: Schools Concerned About Cutting E-rate Funding for Phone Service

The Federal Communications Commission's E-rate program received funding requests totalling $3.92 billion from 27,132 applicants in the 2015 fiscal year, according to a new report from Funds For Learning, an organization that advocates for the use of educational technologies and student Internet access.

The report, "E-rate Funding Year 2015: Analysis of Funding Request Data and Applicant Survey," compiles the results of a nationwide survey of E-rate applicants that was conducted in June 2015 with the goal of providing E-rate stakeholders and policymakers with information about how the program is being used and generating suggestions for improvements.

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • 91 percent of applicants requested funding for voice telephony services;
  • 81 percent requested funding for Internet access and data lines;
  • 39 percent requested funding for on-campus networks, such as WiFi and other internal networks;
  • The majority of applicants requested less than $25,000 per year;
  • 30 percent said the application process took longer than in prior years;
  • 24 percent said the process was "significantly more complex" this year;
  • 86 percent of applicants said they were concerned that telephony services are being phased out of the E-rate program;
  • two-thirds of applicants think the current budget cap for on-campus networks is too low; and
  • 58 percent of applicants would like the budget system for on-campus networks to be combined with the system for other services.

Based on the results of the survey, the report made three recommendations to the FCC:

  1. Consider either raising the budget cap for on-campus networks or implementing a unified budget cap with Internet access, leased data lines and phone service;
  2. Monitor if more applicants opt out of the program; and
  3. Identify ways to reduce the administrative burdens on applicants.

The full report is available as a free, downloadable PDF from Funds for Learning.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].