Telecommunication Services Guide for Schools and Libraries

This document provides a guide for school districts and libraries applying for universal service support to implement telecommunications services. This guide is meant as a supplement to the E-rate Application Guidebook, which provides more detailed information about the E-rate program, e-rate compliance as well as the step-by-step instructions on completing an application. In some instances this document may refer readers to the E-rate Application Guidebook for information, to provide additional detail about specific issues, or to illustrate examples.

This guide provides an overview of eligible services and general guidance on completing the Telecommunications Services Request Form (TWRF). It also addresses basic questions that school districts may have when purchasing telecommunications services. Eligible Georgia residents may also visit this page to apply for free phone services.

The following is a list of terms used throughout this document:

Eligible Services – the services that are covered by the E-rate program. Eligible services include local phone, Internet access, internal connections (also known as “basic maintenance”), and telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries. Internal Connections refers to maintaining existing telecommunications services that were previously purchased by the school or library. It also refers to establishing necessary in-house telecommunications circuits that are not in place at the time of application, but are required to provide eligible services identified in the services list.

Internal Connections do NOT include any circuit not connected to a LAN port on an institutional network switch located within the school building; nor does it include any circuit which is not connected to a wall jack.

Eligible Users – the students, staff, and faculty who are authorized to use E-rate supported telecommunications services.

User Agreements – agreements between eligible schools or libraries and their telecom service providers stating that only authorized users may access phone lines for voice telephone calls or Internet access.

Circuits – the physical line connecting a school district to a telecom service provider. For example, one voice grade circuit can carry multiple telephone calls at once. A T1 circuit is made up of 24 voice grade circuits that are bundled together for Internet access or internal connections services.

E-rate Subsidized Services – any telecommunications service included on the services list that benefits an eligible school or library.

E-Rate Discount – the portion of a telecommunications service discounted below its standard rate as part of the E-rate program.

Non-Discounted Services – any telecommunications service that is not subsidized by E-rate. This includes retail charges and charges for non-discounted or customized services, such as a school or library purchasing a high speed circuit which exceeds the level of service included on the E-rate supported services list.

Maximum Discount – generally refers to the maximum percentage discount available for telecommunications service provided by an eligible telecom carrier under the rules at 47 C.F.R., Section 54.504(a)(7).

Note: This guide is not meant to provide an exhaustive list of services offered by telecommunications carriers, nor does it cover every situation that schools and libraries may encounter while purchasing telecommunications services. Instead, this document contains general guidance on completing the TWRF for basic E-rate supported services. Please contact your service provider or the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) if you need assistance with services that are not included on the E-rate supported services list or other specialized services for which there is no one-stop shop mechanism.

Authorities and References:

* Telecommunications Act of 1996, as amended by The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001; Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425 (2002).

* FCC’s Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism Report and Order, FCC 03-238, December 18, 2003.

* 47 CFR Parts 54 & 54 Subpart F adopted under the Telecommunications Act of 1996; see also Federal Communications Commission regulations for details regarding eligible services and the application process.

* The FCC Guide to the E-rate Program, which includes a list of all telecommunications services eligible for E-rate discounts and other useful information for school and libraries applying for E-rate funding.