The Schools and Libraries Division has formally launched a pilot program to create an online data base of products that are considered eligible for funding as internal connections. The SLD is in the process of developing software and systems to permit manufacturers to submit data about their eligible internal connections products. Participation in the program is voluntary.
Manufacturers are supposed to submit information only for products that are eligible as internal connections (E-rate eligibility is ultimately conditional on whether a product is used in an eligible way and by an eligible entity.) It was not immediately clear whether the SLD would accept products that it considers to be partially eligible, based on a reviewed cost allocation.
Manufacturers may post information in one of several formats. Manufacturers are supposed to provide the product name, a product description (using factual details), and an indication of the type of product (such as router, PBX or file server). A number representing Product Type and Product Function is then assigned, corresponding to entries in the SLD's Eligible Services list. (Product function, for instance, might correspond to "data distribution equipment" or "telephony equipment.") Manufacturers can also provide optional information, including pricing and additional notes.
The SLD expects that tens of thousands of products may be submitted. Accordingly, the SLD plans to use a modified "first in, first out" approach. If a manufacturer submits more than 1,000 product entries, only the first 1,000 would be reviewed immediately. The review would move to other manufacturers before the rest of the entries from the first manufacturer are reviewed. This approach will be used for entries submitted before July 31, 2004. Manufacturers that anticipate submitting more than 1,000 entries are advised to prioritize their entries so that the most popular entries are submitted first, or consider consolidating entries where possible.
Between August 1 and August 31, this process will be modified so that only the first 500 entries will be reviewed immediately. This approach is designed to encourage manufacturers with a large number of products to submit their entries early. Enrollment in the pilot program is expected to end on August 15. Once enrollment ends, only those manufacturers that have completed the enrollment process and submitted their data by August 31 will be permitted to participate in the pilot. Manufacturers that have completed both steps by August 31 will be able to add new products, delete old products and make changes in existing products after that date. However, manufacturers are encouraged to do most of their data entry in July and August.