Universal Service Fund Background
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation designated as the administrator of the federal Universal Service Fund by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The goals of Universal Service Fund (USF), as mandated by the 1996 Act, are to:
- Promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers
- Increase nationwide access to advanced telecommunications services
- Advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas
- Increase access to telecommunications and advanced services in schools, libraries and rural health care facilities
- Provide equitable and non-discriminatory contributions from all providers of telecommunications services to the fund supporting universal service programs
For information about USF visit http://www.usac.org/ or www.fcc.gov/wcb/tapd/universal_service/
ICN began its participation in the USF program in FY 2001, as a common carrier. Over the years, ICN has saved Iowa's schools and libraries over $67.5 million.
ICN is involved in two of the four USF programs, which are:
- The Schools and Libraries Program, also known as the E-rate Program, offers discounts for schools and libraries. ICN provides telecommunications discounts to 287 schools and libraries in Iowa.
- Supports connectivity - the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet. Funding is requested under five categories of service: telecommunications service, Internet access, internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and miscellaneous.
- Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served, and ranges from 10 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.
- The Rural Health Care Program offers telecommunications discounts to health care providers. ICN provides services to 131 Iowa health care providers who receive USAC discounts.
EducationSuperHighway is a non-profit organization working to upgrade the Internet access in every classroom in America, so that all students can take advantage of the promise of digital learning. They raise awareness of the connectivity gap, provide technical and procurement expertise to states and districts, and advocate on behalf of students to influence policy change.
- School Wi-Fi Buyer’s Guide - EducationSuperHighway’s vendor-neutral Wi-Fi guide helps school districts use E-rate’s $150 per student budget efficiently to get classrooms connected.
- Network Essentials for Superintendents - EducationSuperHighway’s action-oriented resource provides best practices and expert tips for district leaders who are managing network upgrade projects in order to get their students and teachers the network they need for digital learning.
The Iowa Department of Education provides a variety of E-Rate trainings. For more information visit www.iptv.org/iowa_database/erate/.
For questions relating to ICN's participation in USF, contact Angela Schneider, ICN's USAC Administrator, at 515-725-4880 or Angela.Schneider@iowa.gov.