25% Discount on Telecommunications
With the advent of funding from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund and discounts from the FCC's Universal Service Fund, Texas libraries have been looking more closely at the 25% discount on telecommunication services provided by House Bill 2128.
To obtain the discounts, libraries must submit an affidavit form requesting the discounts from their telecommunications service provider stating that the services will be used on eligible activities as described in the legislation.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has prepared a sample affidavit form for your use.
Keep the following in mind when working with your telecommunications provider in obtaining these discounts:
- The state requires companies to provide three types of discounts: 25%, special T-1 rates, and cost plus for certain services. These discounts cannot be combined.
- The state and federal E-rate discounts can be combined. For example, an 80% E-rate discount combined with the 25% state discount yields an effective discount rate of 85%.
- All local exchange companies (e.g., a telephone company that is providing local dial-tone service) must provide a 25% discount on any tariffed voice or data service which is used at least 50% for "information sharing" and is regulated by the Texas Public Utilities Commission (example: telephone line used to answer patron questions or fax line; line used for Internet access; services such as call waiting or caller ID; and local toll calls); the discount does not apply to inter-state long distance charges, which are regulated by the FCC.
- A tariffed service is any service provided at a rate set by the Public Utilities Commission; includes essentially all services up to an ISDN line, plus T-1 lines for schools and libraries.
Questions concerning the implementation of this discount have arisen. We hope the following will help dispel some of the myths.
All the telephone companies understand this discount.
Most of the local telephone company representatives do not work with libraries or educational institutions very much. They may not be aware, or may not remember, how this discount works. It might be up to you to provide them with the mandatory affidavit and the legal citations:
House Bill 2128 §3.605
Implementation of the discount means just a phone call to my local telephone utility.
No. An affidavit from you stating that the line or service will be used over 50% of the time for information sharing programs must be submitted to your local telephone utility. Sometimes you can get this affidavit from the phone company; if not, contact your system office or the Texas State Library (512/463-5476 or 512/463-6627).
I have to use an affidavit from my local phone company.
Although it is easier if they have one, it is not necessary. Be certain that the affidavits
- specify the requested service(s) to be discounted;
- quantify, if applicable, the requested service(s) to be discounted;
- state that the discounted service(s) will be used predominantly for distance learning purposes or information sharing program purposes; and
- specify the intended use(s) of the discounted service(s).
The affidavit must be signed by the administrative head of the library, or a designee.
The discount applies to my entire telephone system.
Not necessarily. The discount applies to a telephone line or telecommunications service if the line is used over 50% of the time for information sharing programs.
Instruction, learning, and training that is transmitted from one site to one or more sites by telecommunications services that are used by a library predominantly for such instruction, learning, or training, including video, data, voice, and electronic information.
Note that administration of the library does not fall under the definition of information sharing program. Also note that you cannot use this discount in addition to other HB 2128 discounts.
HB 2128 §3.359
The discount starts being applied to the bill when the telephone utility finishes their paperwork.
The discount should begin when the utility has received your affidavit. After you sign the affidavit, send it with a return receipt to the local telephone utility. The discount should begin on the date the receipt was returned to you. Although it may not show on your next bill, the discount should be retroactive to the date on the return receipt.
Once the discount is in place, I don't have to worry about it anymore.
You should keep checking the telephone bills. Sometimes the phone company upgrades their software, converts their database to a different format, or inadvertently keys information into the wrong record. The sooner you catch these problems, the easier they are to correct.
Local telephone company representatives prefer not to give me this discount because their commission is based on the discounted rate.
Not necessarily. This depends upon the telephone company, but many are giving the representatives their commission on the pre-discounted rate. If you think this might be the reason you are having a difficult time obtaining the discount, you might ask.
If I can't get my local phone company to give me this discount, then there is nothing else I can do.
There are many people who can help you get this discount or help you fill out your forms:
- For public libraries, call your system staff
- Contact the Technology Consultant at the state library