Sweeping Changes to the E-Rate Program Leave Many Dazed and Confused
Over the summer, the FCC Board of Commissioners made major changes to the E-Rate program, which will affect all participating schools and libraries. The board released these changes (the 7th Order) on July 23, 2014, and the final rule was posted a few weeks later on August 19, 2014. While some of these changes will increase the availability of certain technologies, it’s important to know that funding for other services will be gradually phased out.
The board’s changes mean that there will be more funding for broadband, WiFi, and Internet services and less funding for wireless phones, email, web pages, and voice services.
This means that the opportunity to maximize E-Rate funding for Hosted voice will diminish over the next two years. This will eventually lead to an expiration in E-Rate discounts for voice services altogether.
Don’t Lose Existing Discounts by Doing Nothing
The FCC will be phasing out discounts on legacy voice, Hosted VoIP, and voice services that do not utilize broadband as a transport. The FCC will monitor the phase-out during the first two years and will make adjustments if necessary after that. If all goes according to plan, the phase-out will take 20 percent per year off your normal discount percentage until it reaches zero. For some schools and libraries that will happen much sooner than the five-year mark.
The time to act is now.
Schools and libraries can take advantage of the remaining voice discounts to decrease their overall costs, achieve greater productivity, and provide better learning opportunities by moving their voice services to VoIP now. By hastening the switch to VoIP, schools and libraries will keep their voice costs low once funding for voice services has been completely phased out.
Jive Is on Your Side
Like you, Jive is concerned about how these recent developments will affect schools and libraries. Few factors impact student safety, employee productivity, and budget predictability more than your telecommunications services. Hosted voice is quickly becoming the standard for public sector communications because of its reliability, simplicity, and affordability.
As the most successful provider of Hosted VoIP for schools and libraries, Jive offers these benefits in addition to:
- Platform ownership. Jive completely controls the software that we offer, making development and maintenance top priority. This allows us to cater to the specific needs of our education clients.
- Security. We increase our feature list to add the safety, crisis management, and collaboration features that education providers are requesting.
- All-inclusive features. Jive’s full-feature package is available on all phones so you don’t lose discounts for important features that are offered at an additional cost by vendors. (Note: These extra features are no longer eligible for discounts under the new proposed Eligible Services List released on August 4, 2014.)
Jive understands these changes will affect the available budget dollars that schools and libraries have to spend on communications. Rest assured, we consistently look for new ways to assist our clients in limiting the effect on their bottom line as funding for voice services is reduced.
The Time to Upgrade Is Now
As E-Rate funding for voice services phases out over the next few years, one thing is certain—holding onto your current, aging system will only cost you more each year. When your system becomes obsolete, replacing it (without E-Rate discounts) will be a total capital expense. Now, while discounts are still available, let Jive show you how to utilize our hosted services to improve your bottom line and communication experience.
Contact your Jive Education team at 888-850-3009 or go to jive.com/education to ensure you get the maximum use of the discounts you still have available.