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E-rate Requests Surpass $5 Billion for 20124/25/2012
EDMOND, OKLA. (April 25, 2012) – Requests for discounts on certain communications services increased for the fourth straight year as schools and libraries across the nation requested more than $5 billion in E-rate funds for Funding Year 2012. The requested amount marks the second in the 15-year history of the E-rate program that applicant demand has exceeded the $5 billion threshold.
Participating in its 15th filing window, Funds For Learning, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance firm, cited the continued increase in requested funding to schools’ and libraries’ need for higher bandwidth and Internet services.
“Technology is continually changing the face of education and [E-rate] is playing a crucial role in the transformation,” said Brian Stephens, senior technology and regulatory analyst at Funds For Learning. “Increased technology usage in the classrooms is opening up a new world of possibilities for teachers, students and parents. E-rate is moving communications networks and supporting infrastructure from a pipe dream to a realized opportunity for many of the nations’ poorest communities.”
Stephens went on to state that it “should not come as a surprise” that the E-rate applicant demand for Internet and telecommunications services continues to increase, but voiced concern about the amount of requested funding in relation to the amount of available funding.
“There is a paradigm shift in the field of education. Schools are implementing online learning systems, utilizing streaming video services and beginning to encourage learning on students’ personal technology devices,” said Stephens. “These advancements are great, but their implementation takes money – unfortunately more money than the E-rate program supplies annually.”
Created as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the E-rate program provides approximately $2.3 billion annually in discounts on certain services and products that are essential for classrooms and libraries to receive voice, video and data communications – less than 50 percent the total requested amount for 2012.
“The increasing demand demonstrates the value of the program and that many schools and libraries are relying on this funding to continue or execute their technology goals,” said Cathy Cruzan, president of Funds For Learning. “However, with the annual funding cap remaining virtually static since 1998, it is concerning that securing the needed funds will be increasingly difficult moving forward.”
Funds For Learning has been an active leader in an effort to secure more E-rate funding for applicants.
Anticipating an increased demand for E-rate funds, John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, penned an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski requesting that the commission increase the available funding in the E-rate program.
“E-rate was created with the goal of helping the poorest communities in the nation receive funding for voice and data technologies,” said Cruzan. “With demand outpacing available funding at more than a two-to-one ratio, it is important that E-rate stakeholders actively petition the FCC to increase the available funding. We want all schools and libraries to continue to realize the benefit that comes with E-rate funding.”
Funds For Learning invites E-rate stakeholders and supporters to sign the online petition before it is delivered to the FCC in late 2012.
About Funds For Learning Funds For Learning, LLC, is an E-rate compliance firm specializing in guiding E-rate applicants and service providers through the complex and ever-changing E-rate regulatory process. With more than 150 combined years of experience in providing professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program, Funds For Learning exists to provide high-quality solutions for the needs of E-rate stakeholders. The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Edmond, Okla. For more information, visit www.fundsforlearning.com or phone 405-341-4140.