Fwd: Vote Could Mean Telecommunications Discounts for Education

From: wecooks@ix.netcom.com
Subject: Fwd: Vote Could Mean Telecommunications Discounts for Education
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 11:13:28 -0600 (CST)

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From: "Arthur J. Galus" <arthur-galus@worldnet.att.net>
Subject:      Vote Could Mean Telecommunications Discounts for Education
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Sender: edinfo@inet.ed.gov
From: Kirk_Winters@ed.gov (Kirk Winters)
      US Department of Education
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 97

     BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in new investments for technology
     may be available to schools & libraries as early as
     the 1997-98 school year.  It all hinges on a vote
     scheduled for May 8.

     On that day, the 4 current Commissioners of the Federal
     Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to accept, modify
     or reject a set of recommendations made by the Federal-State
     Joint Board on Universal Service.  These recommendations, if
     accepted by the Commissioners, would mean deep discounts --
     20% to 90% off Internet access charges & other
     telecommunication services -- for schools & libraries.

     Are such discounts important for your students?  How could
     discounts in Internet access charges & other telecommuni-
     cation services help improve teaching & learning in your
     school or library?

     If you have ideas or an opinion, now is the time to let the
     Federal Communications Commission (FCC), your state public
     utility regulators & other public officials hear from you.

     For more information, here is an "E-Rate Alert" (below)
     prepared by our Office of Public Affairs & our Office of
     Educational Technology.

                         E-RATE ALERT
                 U.S. Department of Education
                        March 7, 1997

     As part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Snowe-
     Rockefeller Amendment gives schools and libraries, for the
     very first time, the opportunity to receive deep discounts
     in access charges to the Internet and other available tele-
     communication services.  The Federal-State Joint Board on
     Universal Service established by the Federal Communications
     Commission (FCC) has made the following recommendations to
     implement the law:

       *   Establish an "E-rate" (education rate) for
           telecommunications services making every public and
           private non-profit school in the nation eligible for
           discounts ranging from 20% to 90% on a sliding scale

       *   Internet access (dial-up, direct access, and E-mail) as
           well as internal connections (internal wires, routers
           and network file servers) are subject to these
           discounts as well as installation and maintenance

       *   Recognizing that schools and libraries need
           flexibility, *all* commercially available
           telecommunications service are eligible for discounts
           including telephone lines, coaxial cable, and fiber
           optics as well as cellular and satellite

       *   Funding to support this initiative will come from the
           Universal Service Fund, which will be administered by
           an independent fund administrator and total up to $2.25
           billion a year.

     The average discount will be about 60% for every school and
     one-third of all schools will receive discounts of 80% to

     This deep discount provision will be especially helpful to
     rural and urban schools that have high rates of poverty.
     The level of discounts will be determined by a combination
     of two factors:  percentage of students eligible for Free or
     Reduced Price Lunch and geographic location.  For example, a
     school which has 20% to 34% of its students participating in
     the national school lunch program will receive about a 50%
     discount on its access charges.

     But a school with 75% to 100% of its students participating
     in the school lunch program will receive a 90% discount.

     The staff of the Federal Communications Commission is now in
     the process of developing the final rules for implementing
     the recommendations.  On May 8th, the four current
     Commissioners of the FCC will vote to accept, modify or
     reject these recommendations.  At a time when only 14% of
     all classrooms are connected to the Internet, the creation
     of an "E-rate" will go a very long way to helping principals
     and teachers prepare their students for the 21st century.
     Should the FCC vote to implement the "E-rate" in May,
     funding will be available for the 1997 school year.

     There are three important dates in charting the future of
     the E-rate.  It is important that the FCC, your state public
     utility regulators, and other public officials understand
     how the E-rate will help your students.

       *   March 12th -- The Senate Commerce Committee, led by
           Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Fritz
           Hollings (D-South Carolina), will review the progress
           of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, including the E-
           rate.  Reed Hundt, the Chair of the FCC will testify.
           Please call 202-224-5115 for more information.

       *   May 8th -- The FCC Commissioners will vote to accept,
           modify or reject the final rules to implement the E-
           rate.  Please call 202-418-0500 for more information.

       *   June 3rd -- A live, interactive video conference
           entitled "Maximizing Your E-Rate" sponsored by PBS is
           scheduled to air at 1-2:30 pm EST to explain how the E-
           rate will be implemented.  To participate, a school
           needs a steerable C-band or Ku-band satellite dish.
           Please call 1-800-257-2578 for more information.

     To subscribe to (or unsubscribe from) EDInfo, address an
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        Kirk Winters
        U.S. Department of Education

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