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New E-rate Opportunity for funding Broadband Infrastructure

2016 January 25
by Henry Stokes

As part of the recent modernization update, the E-rate discount program now offers a brand new way for accredited public libraries in Texas to get funding for the internal connections needed for broadband connectivity within the library building.

In the past, funding for these specific services was limited to only the most needy (libraries located in more rural/higher poverty areas), but now ANY accredited public library can apply discounts (as much as 90%) on “Category Two” (C2) services.

Under C2, libraries can purchase equipment such as:

  • Wireless access points
  • Antennas, cabling, connectors, and related components used for internal broadband connections
  • Switches
  • Routers
  • Racks

And libraries can order maintenance services such as:

  • Managed wi-fi services
  • Installation, activation and initial configuration
  • Repair and upkeep of eligible hardware
  • Wire and cable maintenance
  • Configuration changes
  • Basic technical support for internal connections
  • Software upgrades and patches including bug fixes and security patches

(For a complete listing of what’s eligible, please see the Eligible Services List for the most current funding year)

Libraries applying for these C2 services must work within a budget determined by the the library’s square footage. This becomes the maximum amount that can be used over the course of five years to spend on eligible services under Category Two. Libraries serving a population of 250,000 or more receive $5 per sq. ft. Libraries serving less than 250K receive $2.30/sq. ft.  Within this budget, libraries will still be able to apply their E-rate discount based on their urban/rural status and poverty level of its school district.

If you’d like to know your libraries’ E-rate discount percentage, or wish to learn more about Category Two and all things E-rate, please contact Texas E-rate Coordinator Henry Stokes at hstokes@tsl.texas.gov, 512-463-6624.

These funds are out there for a limited time for the express purpose of being used by libraries to improve their broadband – Take Advantage!!

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