On the eve of the formal launch of the E-rate program, the Schools and Libraries Corporation Jan. 29 released a chart detailing in greater depth than before which services will be considered eligible for E-rate funding.
Telecommunications Services: In addition to telecommunications services previously named, the SLC listed as eligible services Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM); CENTREX; digital data service; fractionalized T-1; Frame Relay Service (both UNI Link and NNI Link); high-capacity service; programmed audio service; satellite services, when provided by a telecommunications provider or to access the Internet; sub-voice grade facilities; and unlicensed spread spectrum and video service.
Also deemed eligible were so-called homework hotline services, excluding those components that involved voice mail or that were not located at the school.
Cable TV access, the SLC said, would be eligible if it was provided as a commercially available telecommunications service, as part of Internet access or as an internal connection necessary to transport information to individual classrooms. Normally, the SLC noted, cable providers are not
considered providers of interstate telecommunications. Distance learning was also considered eligible if provided as a telecommunications service.
The SLC said a decision was still pending on Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS).
Under basic telephone service, referred to as POTS for Plain Old Telephone Service, the SLC included dual-tone multifrequency signaling, access to 911 and access to operator services, interexchange service and directory assistance on the list of eligible services. All toll charges were also included.
Internal Connections: Data equipment, including channel banks, digital cross connects, and LAN switches, was added to the eligible list. File servers will eligible, but if they were built to provide a storage function to supplement networked PCs, the price associated with the storage function
will be ineligible. Improvements and upgrades to eligible services, such as memory upgrades for computers that act as routers, switches or hubs, will be eligible. Wired and wireless Private Branch Exchange (PBXs), as well as Wireless PBX adjunct were also deemed eligible.
The SLC changed an earlier designation on firewalls, saying they would be eligible if they were provided as a component of a file server.
Newly added to the ineligible list were network management systems, including CRT displays and printers and circuitry for diagnostics housed in an operator console; network interface cards (NICs), power strips and uninterruptible power supplies. Video conference equipment, such as CODEC modems, enhanced multimedia interfaces, media retrieval equipment, and televisions and video recorders will not be eligible. The SLC initially said that conduit would not be eligible, but in a revised list distributed on Feb. 3, it said that conduit would be eligible when it was used to house eligible internal connections.
Multiplexing was eligible if provided as part of internal connections for an eligible network.
The SLC said a decision was still pending on Channel Service Unit/Data Service Units (CSU/DSUs), which are used to terminate a digital channel at a customer’s premises.
Miscellaneous: The SLC said a decision was still pending on satellite dishes, but that personnel costs and consulting services would be ineligible for support.
The chart provides the citation from the regulations that the SLC used in making its determination. The staff consulted with the Federal Communications Commission before releasing the list. Because applicants are responsible for determining whether the services for which they are seeking support are eligible, the SLC has encouraged applicants to seek an opinion from the corporation if a service does not appear on the SLC’s list