Get to Know E-Rate Eligibility Requirements

Rhea Fawley

Before the FCC Form 471 window opens for E-Rate funding, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) releases what they call the eligible services list for the upcoming funding year. The eligible services list shows what products and services USAC has decided are eligible for discounts, as well as eligibility conditions for each category of service during the specified funding year.

Category 1 Services

Category 1 Services are data transmission services and Internet access. That includes leased lit fiber, leased dark fiber, and self-provisioned broadband networks. While we don’t offer these types of services at Connection, we make the distinction in order to avoid confusion on a funding request.

This service type covers broadband connectivity and “basic conduit access” to the Internet. These services cannot include: charges for content, end user devices, equipment purchases, or other services beyond “basic conduit Internet access.” Starting in this funding year (2019), voice services will no longer be eligible through E-Rate.

Category 2 Services

Category 2 Services are internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections. Internal connections and managed internal broadband services (MIBS) include: access points, routers, switches, hubs, and wiring. These products must be at the applicant’s site and must be used to transport information to classrooms or public spaces in a library.

Eligible services that fall under the MIBS category are services offered by a 3rd party, such as operation, management, and monitoring of the eligible components. Applicants also have the option to lease equipment as a part of an internal connection or MIBS request.

BMIC Requests

Basic maintenance of internal connections (BMIC) requests cover repair and upkeep of eligible internal connections. Examples of this would be hardware, wiring, cable maintenance, basic technical support, and configuration changes. Only the work performed during a contract is covered under E-Rate. The work being performed must be on eligible products, their parts for replacement and repair. Unless a bundled warranty or fixed price contract can be cost allocated (remove ineligible costs) they are not eligible for reimbursement.

Examples of what can be funded under a BMIC request:

  • Software upgrades and patches
  • Bug fixes, security patches
  • Online/telephone-based technical assistance and tools
  • This is only as long as service or equipment function/serve the intended purpose and has the reliability that is provided with such services.

Mixed Eligibility

There can be cases of mixed eligibility, when products/services have both ineligible and eligible unit costs. An example of when a product and service would require to be cost allocated would be:

  • Components—A data T1 circuit would be eligible. However, the channels dedicated to voice services on that circuit would not be eligible.
  • Uses—A server that is used for caching would be eligible, but the video distribution would be an ineligible use.
  • Separate locations—A school run by a church is eligible for services, but the church office would not be eligible for those services discounted by E-Rate.

If you want to learn more about your options, our experts are ready to answer your questions and help you choose the right technology for your school. Contact us today!

Rhea Fawley is an E-rate Sales Specialist at Connection, specializing in the education marketplace. When she’s not helping customers solve IT challenges or navigate the E-Rate process, you’ll find her reading, writing, or taking her two young children on adventures.