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Most Applicants Want ESL Expanded

Despite a delayed release, the FCC’s proposed eligible services list (ESL) for E-rate funding year 2019 offered no surprises. The only substantive change proposed by the FCC is the final elimination of voice services from the ESL. Of course, the phase out of support for telephone services has been in the works since 2014, and last fall the FCC made clear that there were no plans to reverse this course.
We know what the FCC thinks; but what do applicants think about the eligible services list? What goods and services should qualify for E-rate discounts? Applicants have until August 29, 2018, to submit their formal comments to the FCC regarding the FY2019 ESL. However, respondents to the 2018 nationwide survey of E-rate applicants were already asked their opinions about the ESL. Not surprisingly, 99% of respondents believe that primary Internet access and on-campus Wi-Fi networks should qualify for support. This lines up nicely with the FCC’s current draft of the ESL.
Past that, the FCC’s priorities diverge from that of many applicants. In fact, schools and libraries would prefer to have discounts on many of the goods and services that are slated to be ineligible in FY2019, including:
  • Network security (C2): 96%
  • VoIP networking equipment (C2): 88%
  • Dual/failover Internet access (C1): 82%
  • Off-campus community Internet access (C1): 79%
  • Telephone service (C1): 76%
  • School bus Internet access (C1): 58%
The charts below show all the responses. More than 1,000 individuals participated in the 2018 survey of applicants. The full report, including more comments from applicants, is available here.
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