What is the E-Rate Program and Why We Love It

Posted on Mar 3, 2020 in Education

What is the E-Rate Program and Why We Love It

What is the E-Rate Program and Why We Love It

The E-Rate program is an FCC-backed financial assistance grant program for primary education institutions and libraries for the benefit of the organization to upgrade and/or maintain their technology to better serve their population. 

Here are a few of examples:

A school in North Carolina had a wireless network that they needed to have installed. They had previously used routers that they bought from a retail store and stuck all over the school to give teachers wireless. This was unreliable for the teachers, the teachers could not go away from the router nearby their classroom, and the school wanted to go one-to-one with devices for all students from grades 6 through 12. The project cost $45,000, and because of the E-Rate program, the school qualified for a 40% granted discount. The school ended paying $27,000 and saving the remaining $18,000.

A rural school in Iowa had a good, existing, working wireless network, but over 50 of their wireless access points were at end of life. The project to replace the access points was $65,000, and because of the E-Rate program, the school qualified for an 85% granted discount. The school ended up paying $9,750 and saving the remaining $55,250.

Another school in North Carolina had network equipment and qualifying servers that needed management. They did not have nor want permanent onsite IT personnel. Because of the E-Rate program, the monthly $2,175 was able to be offset by a 40% granted discount. This saved the school $10,440 for the year and elevated the support to where they did not have to pay anything additional for services related to their network or servers.

There are a lot of working pieces, and today we will explain exactly how this program works.

The Players

There are a variety of players in this program that are foundational to understand how it works and how to get the most out of it for your organization.  

  1. The Applicant. The Applicant is the educational institution or library that is applying for grant awards.
  2. The Service Provider. The Service Provider bids on applications submitted by Applicants, and, if selected, performs the agreed upon. 
  3. The Consultant. The Consultant knows the program better than anyone else (except maybe the folks who work for it directly) and is a tremendous asset to the Application in making sure that forms are completed correctly, timelines are followed, and no money is wasted. A good Consultant is a powerful assistant to the Applicant. 
  4. The USAC. The USAC (Universal Service Administrative company) administers the Universal Service Fund under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Universal Service Fund helps communities and people across the U.S. stay connected to the information, resources, and care they need. The Applicants, Service Providers, and Consultants are all certified by the USAC. They also certify all forms and agreements made within the program. They make the program work.

The Program

The E-Rate program is pretty simple, actually. The program gives discounts to educational institutions to assist in paying for specific technology services and hardware. The E-Rate program does change from year to year. In the past it has included internet service, phone service, servers, network routers, network switches, wireless access, installation services, and ongoing maintenance of the currently or newly installed equipment (managed services).

One component that is truly interesting is that aside from operating with integrity and keeping records, there are no strings attached. This means that faith based education institutions will not have to change their views or processes in order to participate!

The Process

  1. A Technology Audit is necessary and a first step. Whether an Applicant intends to complete all of the forms themselves, or they are working with a Consultant, they need to know what they have so that they know what to put out for bid. A Consultant and/or knowledgeable Service Provider can perform this audit. We recommend using a Consultant for this because Consultants are prized for knowing what things are covered by the grant, and what aren’t. 
  2. Forms are completed, the application is submitted, and the folks at the USAC review the forms. If they are done properly, the USAC publishes the application forms, and bidding can begin. If not, the USAC sends them back for modification. A Consultant can help ensure that there are no delays in submitting the forms and that they are done right the first time. 
  3. For 28 days, the Applicant may not make a decision as to which Service Provider they are choosing. This cooling off period is a time for Service Providers to review what’s been submitted, ask questions, and submit a bid. 28 days is the minimum period between approval (step 2 above) and selection of service provider. In many cases, the Applicant may take longer to decide if they want to. The Applicant always has the final say as to whom (which Service Provider) they will work with. A Consultant can assist the Applicant in ensuring that they pick the best Service Provider. Often times price is not the best decision making tool because of various reasons including Service Provider reputation, accuracy of the bid, relationship / knowledge of the Service Provider, etc.
  4. The Applicant selects a Service Provider, and the agreement is sent to the USAC for certification and approval. If the anything is off in the agreement as perceived by the USAC auditors, they will send it back to the parties to fix and re-submit. Otherwise, the agreement is certified and published. A Consultant can assist here in making sure that the forms are submitted correctly the first time and that they are modified expeditiously if needed. 
  5. The Service Provider does the work agreed upon work. This may be a one-time service, some hardware, updated internet or phone service, or ongoing service and support, depending on the agreement. 
  6. The Applicant pays the Service Provider, and the Service Provider gets paid. This is a weird way of saying it, but there are two main ways that the Service Provider gets paid. BEAR is where the Applicant pays the Service Provider the full amount, and then gets reimbursed all amounts due from the USAC. SPI is where the Applicant pays the Service Provider the appropriate discounted amount, and the Service Provider gets paid the remainder from the USAC. Typically, though, it is a hybrid between these two and depends greatly on what the Applicant and Service Provider decide upon.
  7. Repeat for next year. The process has to be redone every year to receive funding. A Consultant can make sure that everything stays in timeline. 

The Passion (What We Love, but wanted to use another P-word)

  1. Helping schools in creating tomorrow’s leaders today. All the technology in the world is irrelevant if we don’t have good and wise people to position it properly. Your role is to train, and to train effectively. Our future leaders in all industries are in your hands. You have a huge responsibility and undertaking. And we are grateful that you do it! We are excited about the leaders that will come out of your organization, and we are excited to partner with you in our area of expertise, technology.
  2. Our love for technology. We love it, and this part of our passion shows up in the way we do work. 
  3. Our joy in simplifying technology and “tech talk” into terms everyone can understand. We’ve all been in a conversation with someone who knows their craft / line of work really well, but can’t communicate it at all. We leave confused and bewildered and unsure if we should be excited or scared. That’s no good! We strive for our clients to understand what we are doing before, during, and after we do it. After all, it’s YOUR technology. We are here to make sure it works best for the way that you want to do things! 
  4. Our desire to “right-size your business and technology”. There’s no need for a King Size Snickers when you just want a little nibble. The same is true with your tech. We hate seeing wasted money on unused or expired technology. It also pains us to see organizations struggling because the technology that they have isn’t doing what the organization needs. This is a core tenant to what we do.

If you work for a school, school district, head start program, or another type of educational organization and are interested in technology solutions and E-Rate funding please reach out to us! Discover how easy it is to get started. 

For more useful technology resources for education, please follow us please follow us on social media on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Legal Disclaimer: Veragy is not affiliated and does not endorse the products or services offered by any externally linked site. They are mentioned for the perusal and thought provocation of the reader. Use at your own risk.

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Is the System That I’m Using Today Actively Protecting Students and Faculty?

Posted on Feb 26, 2020 in Education, UCaaS, VoIP

Is the System That I’m Using Today Actively Protecting Students and Faculty?

Is the System That I’m Using Today Actively Protecting Students and Faculty?

VoIP is the future of communication. This can include connecting students, faculty, and all staff together. You may have noticed talk that more people are moving away from the old bell and paging systems. This is because VoIP has given a new dimension to the way we can communicate.  Not only does it save time, it also creates a broader space for communication. What we mean is that VoIP is accessible from any geographic location, from any device, and by any internet connection. It’s easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and much more effective.

However, the big question we face is: Are the systems we are currently using in our educational institutions effective in protecting the students and the faculty? 

That’s what we wanted to discuss today! Keep reading to find out our professional insight of this matter, as we are extremely hands on with this scope of work and understand the criticality of it.  

Let’s start with Kari’s Law. This is a law that came about after the Kari murder incident. 

The story goes that she was brutally killed in her hotel room in 2013. However, there were multiple attempts by her daughter to dial 9-1-1, and they all failed. It was later determined that if her daughter had been able to reach emergency services, Kari would have survived the attack. Could you imagine? 

So, on February 16, 2018 Kari’s Law was signed into federal law. The law is designed to ensure that anyone, anywhere can reach emergency services and that critical location data is provided with that call.

February 16, 2020 – Kari’s Law  is in effect requires the following on all new / upgraded systems:

  • Direct access to 9-1-1 without an access code.
  • Routing to the 9-1-1 PSAP (public safety answer point) with no interception.
  • On-site notification to staff of who dialed 9-1-1.

Following that unfortunate event, the law was introduced, and required compliance of the law was made mandatory to avoid future mishaps. Many schools, colleges, and other educational institutions are slowly switching to the new system, complying with Kari’s Law. 

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act clearly state that all multi-line phone systems in the U.S. (like those found in hotels, schools, and offices) have to enable direct dial to 9-1-1, direct routing to a 911 center, and there should be on-site notification of a 9-1-1 call which includes a detailed “dispatch-able location” to minimize the response time. The law which was signed in 2018, started going into effect on February 16, 2020

It is vital for us to familiarize ourselves with these laws and their potential impact.

Kari’s Law is now transforming how emergency communications are made by mandating that public safety be built into every aspect of a telephone system. Kari’s Law makes it so that every person can easily call for help, and be easily located by emergency services. 

In just the last few years there have been some unfortunate incidents happening in our schools. These surprising and shocking events can take place in any educational institution. The better we can be prepared, the safer our students and staff will be. More and more, you’ll see that schools and educational institutions are now requested to adapt new communication systems. Compliance issues that may have existed in telecommunication systems that are being replaced are now becoming strictly followed. 

There are a number of service providers out there who can install new systems in institutions. Depending upon your budget and facilities offered, you can choose the best option and ensure safety for your kids. Veragy is a consulting firm that helps you right size your organization needs and the best technology solutions, as we truly want what is best for your organization and the students that you serve. 

What do you think of these new compliance laws in our technology? Did you know about The Kari’s Law? Let us know! For more information on technology, and VoIP for education please follow us please follow us on social media on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Legal Disclaimer: Veragy is not affiliated and does not endorse the products or services offered by any externally linked site. They are mentioned for the perusal and thought provocation of the reader. Use at your own risk.

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Paging Systems & Bell Systems: Antiquated or Effective?

Posted on Feb 19, 2020 in Business, Education, UCaaS, VoIP

Paging Systems & Bell Systems: Antiquated or Effective?

Paging Systems & Bell Systems: Antiquated or Effective?

In both businesses and education, there’s a critical amount of information that must get shared both quickly, and accurately. From scheduling, emergency communications, and health concerns, it’s important information can get shared correctly and in a timely way. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of gaps currently present in these types of communications. There are however many solutions to this communication problem. A couple of examples: There’s retrofitting, or new technology designs that are made for old systems. It’s also possible to set up an entirely new custom framework. These designs can also be created to facilitate faster communications along with higher accuracy. 

If you’re in education and need to update or install a new bell system, along with a scheduler, knowing the basics of bells, clocks, and paging systems can help you decide how to move forward. Realistically though, it’s only a matter of time until paging and bell systems will no longer be effective. We’ll explain why…

Analog, paging, and bell solutions can be static or expandable. It depends what your exact need is as well as the manufacturer. The different packages usually will include a standard number of bell schedules. They also have the ability to use software for lockdown and evacuation, if ever needed. So what is the real difference between the two system types? The difference lies in how signal is transmitted. Analog systems send information in a traditional, baseband format, while IP solutions transmit information digitally.

VoIP is the next big trend. As with the development of modern, cutting edge technology, most institutions, especially schools and colleges, are adapting to VoIP systems that include bell systems and paging systems. Companies are switching to a VoIP extension for their paging systems so that they can come out of the analog world as well. These organizations are ditching the traditional paging and bell systems as VoIP adds a layer of dimension, expandability, and reliability in communication. Also VoIP provides safety and security upgrades for businesses and schools including their ability to be in alignment with their personnel, whether that is employees, managers, students, teachers, or staff. 

With all of that said, traditional, analog paging and bell systems at this point are antiquated, not ineffective. Do you agree? We’d love to hear your feedback!

For more information on safety at school, and new technology please follow us on social media on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Legal Disclaimer: Veragy is not affiliated and does not endorse the products or services offered by any externally linked site. They are mentioned for the perusal and thought provocation of the reader. Use at your own risk.

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Safety at School: Are My Classrooms, Faculty, and Staff Connected?

Posted on Feb 11, 2020 in Education, VoIP

Safety at School: Are My Classrooms, Faculty, and Staff Connected?

Safety at School: Are My Classrooms, Faculty, and Staff Connected?

It is undoubtedly and unanimously agreed that the health and safety of our students is the utmost priority. This is why our schools, communities, and local leaders want to do everything they can to make schools as safe as possible. One way that schools are doing this today is by upgrading their phone to a VoIP (Voice over IP) system.

What Is A VoIP System?

A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system allows all of the users to make or receive calls from anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection. The conversation travels through the computer network instead of the traditional landline phone lines.

What Are The Benefits Of A VoIP System To A School?


In most cases a VoIP system can be more reliable than a traditional telephone system. The VoIP infrastructure is vast in size and distributed geographically. A complete power failure to a school (whether caused by natural calamity or man-made) would not affect the phone system at all, even with no power. For example, a staff member could login from anywhere (desk, computer, smartphone, tablet) and carry on communications with emergency personnel. They would also have access and ability to use all the features of the system.


It is simple to integrate VoIP systems with other technologies. This includes integrating with other products such as emergency onsite notifications, integration with digital signage, and other remote devices.

Enhanced 911

In any emergency situation, the responding personnel can be certain of where an emergency is taking place. This allows appropriate authority to get there sooner. With advanced 911, schools have the ability to transmit the room number, or building location to emergency services when they are contacted.

Cost Saving

Budget is always a critical factor when considering services for schools. A key feature for VoIP systems is that, when partnered with the proper vendor, the cost of a fully featured VoIP phone system is less than paying for POTS (plain old telephone system) lines.

As we can see, implementing VoIP in the school communication system is not only beneficial, but also calls for urgency.  Is important to align the classroom, staff, and faculty so that in case of any emergency, everyone can be on one call and can act accordingly. Doing this will reduce the time delay and help to mitigate the situation rapidly.

The era of legacy telecommunication systems has long gone. Although we are still using mobile communication, very soon it will be well replaced by VoIP system, and rightfully so! What do you think about integrating VoIP in productive ways for classrooms, faculty, and staff? 

For more interesting articles and tips like this, please follow us on social media on Facebook and LinkedIn.


Legal Disclaimer: Veragy is not affiliated and does not endorse the products or services offered by any externally linked site. They are mentioned for the perusal and thought provocation of the reader. Use at your own risk.

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