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Providing Students the Bandwidth They Need for Video Conferencing With E-Rate

October 3, 2020 Steve Tadevich


With the adoption of new technologies into our school systems, the way students and teachers interact with each other and the world around them is changing. E-learning is revolutionizing the way students learn, and many schools are struggling to keep up with the infrastructure required to create a successful e-learning environment both inside the classroom and remotely.

To effectively implement an e-learning environment, there are three puzzle pieces school administrators must fit together: a strong wireless network, fast, stable internet, and a video conferencing system that can support hundreds of users. Depending on the state of the school’s current infrastructure, this can be a daunting task. Understanding how to develop a properly scoped solution is difficult enough but adding in the stress of figuring out how to budget for it is enough to throw in the towel altogether.

This is where programs like E-Rate come in. Developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this grant program can help schools save up to 90% on the upgrade of their internet and wireless solutions. Continue reading to learn more about E-Rate, what’s covered under the program, and how you can take advantage of it to upgrade your wireless solution.


What is E-Rate?

The Schools and Libraries Universal Service Program, commonly referred to as E-Rate, is a Federally-funded program that was created to ensure all schools across the U.S have access to not only stable internet connectivity but the internal infrastructure necessary to support it. Developed in 1996 and rebooted in 2014, E-Rate targets telecommunications, telecommunications services, internet access, internal connections, and the basic services needed to maintain the internal connections.

This means that schools can leverage the program to help pay for the high-speed, high-bandwidth internet, wireless access points, and video conferencing solutions they need to effectively implement e-learning on their campus, and cover some of the costs of maintaining these systems.  

There are certain criteria schools need to meet to qualify for funding. However, if your school is considered an elementary or secondary school that is not for profit, you’re likely covered.


What Is Covered Under E-Rate?

The FCC has divided the types of products and services covered under the E-Rate program into two categories: One and Two. Category One focuses on the products and services needed to bring internet connectivity to the building, while Category Two focuses on the internal infrastructure. 

Category Two is optimal for schools looking to shore up their technology to meet distance learning needs. It covers the upgrade of existing equipment in addition to any new equipment required to support the high bandwidth needed to run all of the laptops, tablets, and video conferencing solutions used in an e-learning solution. Cisco Meraki products like access points, wireless LAN controllers, and firewalls are covered, as well as Cisco Webex, a robust video conferencing solution favored by many school systems.


Ready to Take the Next Step?

Do you know how your school’s current wireless infrastructure stacks up against the needs of today’s e-learning culture? Are you looking to upgrade your wireless and video conferencing solutions, but aren’t sure how to fit it into the budget? Let Network Solutions help.

Our team is extremely well-versed in the inner-workings of the E-Rate program. We understand the eligibility and application process, what products are covered by the grant, and how to design the best solution to fit your unique needs.

Download a copy of our E-Learning Needs Analysis Template today to see how prepared your school is for e-learning this year.

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