Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Cost-Effectively Improve Your Internet Connectivity using the E-rate Program

Important to know:

  • The next E-rate application cycle starts this fall.
  • A special equipment budget that allows for nearly all applicants to receive funding to update their broadband services will be ending in the next year - and may not be renewed - so it is important to act in the next year to take advantage of this opportunity.
Libraries continue to be a vital community anchor to provide Internet access to everyone. Especially for patrons who do not have Internet at home, the library may be the only place they can go to access the Internet. Online connectivity has become more essential to apply for jobs, learn new skills, and to participate meaningfully in the global economy. More and more people rely on the Internet access available from their libraries.

There is a nationally administered technology program that is designed specifically for libraries and schools to ensure they have sufficient broadband Internet to meet their community needs. Known as the E-rate program, libraries qualify for funding to help pay for high-speed Internet service and Wi-Fi network equipment to ensure robust Internet access is available and can accommodate multiple simultaneous users. To participate in E-rate, libraries must have adopted an Internet Safety Policy and must have an Internet filtering mechanism in place.

E-rate operates as a discount program and provides funding for broadband services and network equipment. The South Dakota E-rate Coordinator, Debra Kriete, has written a longer article with detailed information about the E-rate program. Read it at