In 1996, the US Congress passed the Telecommunications Act. In it Congress, directed the Federal Communications Commission to establish a method for supporting the delivery of telecommunications and technology to elementary and secondary schools and libraries. The FCC in turn established the Universal Service Administrative Company to oversee the program and the disbursement of funding.

E-Rate is the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.

The Schools and Libraries Program supports connectivity - the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet. Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served and range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services.


Category I Telecommunications and internet services delivered to building

Category II Network Infrastructure within a building



Phased out and ending in 2020

  • Local Phone Service

  • Long Distance Phone Service

  • Cell Phone Service

  • POTS

  • Cell Phone Service

Not phasing out

  • Leased Lit and Dark Fiber

  • IRUs

  • Internet access

  • Wireless internet access


  • Wireless Access Points

  • Cabling

  • Caching

  • Firewall Services and components

  • Switches

  • Routers

  • Racks

  • UPS

  • Wireless Controller

  • Wi-Fi Software

  • Managed Wi-Fi Services

  • And the maintenance of these eligible products

The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program connects our country’s schools and libraries to broadband and provides a discount on high-speed Internet access, telecommunications services, and equipment