The education system in the U.S. is facing a financial crisis. Many school systems are underfunded. Teachers are underpaid, and they often need to buy school supplies themselves. When schools lack the funds for basic necessities, investing in the technology required to take advantage of innovative learning tools becomes a challenge.
Most schools want their students to have access to the Internet so they can conduct research online and participate in personalized learning initiatives. Luckily, the E-Rate program has stepped in to make technology cost-effective for K-12 educators. As a leading network provider, FirstLight offers Priority One services through the E-Rate Program so schools can access affordable connectivity.
Summer is the time to apply for E-Rate funds. So don’t miss out.
What is E-Rate?
In 1996, the Telecommunications Act initiated the E-Rate program to help U.S. schools and libraries gain access to affordable telecommunication and Internet services. The goal was to promote the use of technology in schools. Since 1998, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded funds to schools each year.
The FCC understands that the growing popularity of learning technologies has increased the demand for bandwidth at schools. Under the E-Rate program, schools can also receive discounts between 20% and 90% for the cost of telecommunications. Larger discounts go to schools in rural and impoverished areas.
While some schools need more bandwidth, many lack any access to connectivity. According to the FCC, when E-Rate was established, only 14% of K-12 classrooms had the internet.
The E-Rate program divides its funds into 2 levels:
- Priority One covers data transmission services, Internet access, and voice services.
- Priority Two covers internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections.
How E-Rate Opens Doors
The E-Rate program helps to level the education playing field. With affordable connectivity, students and teachers can access the latest in education technology no matter where their school is located and no matter how limited the school’s budget is.
Online education tools enable students to direct their own learning. Students can use software and educational websites to participate in personalized learning. Personalized learning allows students to conduct independent research on topics that interest them and work at their own pace.
Improved connectivity opens the door for a more collaborative learning environment. Students can work on projects in teams using unified communications tools, such as instant messaging, file sharing, and web conferencing. Using these tools not only enhances classroom learning but also prepares students for higher education and workplace environments.
Funding the Future of Education
The E-Rate program makes the future of education look brighter. The program solves a key funding problem, thereby allowing all schools to benefit from technological innovations. Now students can access the telecommunications and Internet resources to participate in self-directed learning. Teachers can track and assess student progress and communicate more easily with students and parents.
Through the E-Rate program, FirstLight provides Priority One services, which are recurring telecommunications and Internet access solutions. With E-Rate funds, schools can offset the cost of any of FirstLight’s telecommunications and Internet access services.
When schools partner with FirstLight, they don’t need to worry about students’ learning being interrupted by outages or buffering. We deliver service over our extensive fiber optic network, ensuring high uptime and performance. Your school can scale our solution from 5 Mbps to 100 Gbps to meet your changing needs.
Find out more about how FirstLight can put your school on the path to cost effective, high quality communications services.