It is no surprise that bandwidth continues to be high in demand for Iowa school districts. In April 2021, ICN reached another milestone by receiving its first school district request for a 10 Gigabit Internet connection. Using the federal E-Rate bidding process, the Burlington Community School District requested a 10 Gigabit Internet connection for its 3,896 students for the 2021-2022 school year. The service will be deployed on July 1.
According to the website Funds for Learning, the FCC and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is on track for a Record Pace of E-Rate funding in 2021. 18,541 applicants have received a funding commitment, with $1.23 billion funding already committed. Funds for Learning reinforces, “the sooner a school or library receives a funding decision, the faster they can deploy services.”
This E-rate funding provides discounts towards eligible telecommunications services. There are two E-rate categories of funding available for eligible services: Category 1 services include Internet and Ethernet connections (data) and Category 2 services include hardware devices, managed service costs, firewalls, etc. To receive discounts, K-12 schools and libraries are required to use competitive bidding and award service based upon best value (primarily cost). Authorized users are not required to use the ICN for services, but even with the competitive process, ICN continues to be a key Internet Service Provider for the K-12 educational community.
ICN is gearing up to deploy services for the 2021-2022 school year, which are required to be active by July 1. The following are a few of the recent E-rate highlights.
- Sixty-eight (68) education users requested to increase their bandwidth connections.
- Twenty (20) education users maintained their same Internet speed.
- Sixteen (16) education users increased their subscription from 200-400 Megabits per second to 1 Gigabit per second.
- Eleven (11) users increased their service between the ranges of 1.5 Gigabits to 3 Gigabits and above.
- A new bandwidth leader requested a 10 Gigabit Internet service.
- Schools also requested firewall security service.
ICN has participated in the E-rate program since 2001, helping Iowa's schools and libraries stay connected, saving over $95.1 million.
E-rate is the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program administered by the USAC under the Federal Communications Commission. Program discounts depend on the free and reduced lunch percentage of each school building and range from 20-85%.