New Library Directors Handbook

Telecommunications Discount Program (E-Rate)

Since 1997, the federal Telecommunications Discount Program has provided Montana libraries discounts on eligible telecommunications services ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent, depending on economic need and location. Commonly referred to as the "E-Rate Program," it is administered through the nonprofit Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which was established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Schools and Libraries Divisions of USAC administers the schools and libraries program.

The determination of economic need is based upon the percentage of students eligible for participation in the national school lunch program. Libraries use a weighted discount percentage, which includes figures for all of the schools in the school district in which the library is located.

Eligible services covered by E-Rate range from basic local and long distance phone services to Internet access services. Acquisition and installation of equipment to provide networked access to these services are also covered.

To apply for E-Rate discounts, a library must meet the Montana Public Library Standards. To receive discounts on any services other than basic telephone, a library must develop, submit and receive approval of a technology plan to ensure that the library has the ability to use the discounted services once they are purchased. Funding for monthly internet service and/or wiring and equipment requires that a library comply with CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act).