E-rate

Highlights of the 2015 Modernization Orders
When does the E-rate program require compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), and what does that actually mean?

What Is E-rate?

E-rate helps public libraries and schools connect users to the Internet, fast. E-rate is a federally-funded program offering 20-90% discounts on high-speed broadband, and the equipment and support services that make that connectivity work.


All
The circuits that connect your library to your automated network, including: Cable from Comcast, Verizon FIOS, DSL, satellite, MassBroadband 123 or OpenCape fiber.  If it sends data from your network to your library staff,  it may be eligible.  Data circuits are the transport, which is not the same as Internet.
Connectivity to the web and all the services that you use daily.  Internet service should not be confused with data transport.  E-rate discounts for Internet requires CIPA compliance.
Managed internal broadband services.  Your library can pay a 3rd party to manage robust wireless Internet service inside your buildings.

Routers, switches and other equipment necessary to deliver Internet to your users, and maintenance contracts on that equipment.

This is rare!  And complicated. You can receive E-rate discounts for pulling a fiber connection to your building, lighting up unused fiber, or simply paying for the use of already lit fiber.

User equipment --computers, laptops and tablets-- are not eligible for discounts. For more detail, check the E-rate Eligible Services list.


Eligible Libraries

  • Public Library – You are eligible.
  • School Library - Your school or school district will apply for you.
  • Academic Library – In most cases, you are not eligible.
  • Special Library – You may be eligible if you are a member of the Massachusetts Library System and provide direct public service.

There are a few exceptions. Check the Schools and Libraries eligibility definitions or contact us if you have questions.

Should You Apply?

Libraries users and staff need fast, reliable Internet access.

The FCC has adopted ambitious new Internet bandwidth targets (WC Docket No. 13-184 Para 3):  

  • Libraries serving less than 50,000 people:  100Mbps
  • Libraries serving 50,000 people or more: 1Gbps

E-rate helps to make Internet bandwidth affordable, but there are caveats.

E-Rate and CIPA: Do You Need to Filter?

For most E-Rate services, including Internet, you must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. This is a significant barrier for many public libraries. CIPA requires you to provide a technology protection measure, or filter, for all library computers. Discounts on Internet, equipment, managed Wi-Fi, and basic network maintenance all require CIPA compliance.

Learn More

E-rate Bureaucracy

The E-rate process is rigorous and can take time, though applicants get better and faster with experience. E-rate means multi-step applications and procurements, understanding what all the certifications mean, working with service providers to make the discount billing and reimbursents work, and good record keeping. If your expected discounts are not that significant, the overhead may not be worth it.

Read more about the application process.

Where to Get Authoritative Answers

The E-rate program is complex. Though we can get you started, the best and most authoritative web site for information on the E-rate is the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Contact

The state E-rate coordinator for Massachusetts libraries is:

Paul Kissman, Library Information Systems Specialist
617-725-1860, x238

paul.kissman@state.ma.us