CostQuest's New E-rate Tool

Our Work

Apr 17, 2017

Contributors:  Melony Liebel, Gretchen Bryant

CostQuest Associates (CQA) has developed a tool to support schools and libraries with E-Rate filings.

Nationwide, schools and libraries are eligible to receive funding from the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) to purchase telecommunication services and products. This is done by posting an FCC Form 470 to USAC's Schools and Libraries Program (commonly called the E-rate program.) The challenge many schools and libraries face when posting their form is determining their bandwidth needs; this is often an imprecise and inconsistent process across districts, counties, and states.

At the encouragement of the FCC, CostQuest Associates (CQA), working with the Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) at the Public Service Commission (PSC), partnered with the non-profit group Education SuperHighway, to develop a set of tools to assist E-rate participants to accurately interpret their bandwidth needs prior to submitting their FCC Form 470. Wisconsin (WI) became the BETA launch site and The Wisconsin Schools and Libraries Broadband Toolkit was officially launched in March. The tool consists of two applications: the WI Schools and Libraries Bandwidth Assessment Tool (WI-SLBAT) and the WI-SL Broadband Demand Portal.

The WI-SLBAT provides an assessment of the bandwidth need using a series of questions to determine a participant’s use and capacity metrics at a specific location. Assessments can be done at a district level, or at a more granular level such as an individual school. Calculations are applied to the responses and a recommended bandwidth speed is calculated. The output participants receive from the tool can be used as supplemental documentation in their FCC Form 470 filing.

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The second application of the toolkit, the WI Schools and Libraries Broadband Demand Portal, brings together broadband demand with potential supply by allowing broadband providers to see where bandwidth needs are within their communities and state. Map markers identify where assessment surveys have been taken, and who has posted an FCC Form 470,  giving providers opportunity to respond to FCC Form 470 requests for service. This demand portal is also useful for administrators to track assessments at individual locations within their school district or library system.

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This toolkit confirms the WBO’s commitment to help expand the reach of broadband throughout Wisconsin by assisting schools and libraries to better asses their bandwidth needs when applying for E-rate funding.

CQA will be at the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) 2017 Annual Conference in May. If you plan on attending the conference, stop by our booth for a demonstration and more information about the Schools and Libraries Broadband Toolkit, or <a "="" data-cke-saved-href="https://www.costquest.com/form/contact-us-" href="https://www.costquest.com/form/contact-us-">contact us to find out how you can get the Schools and Libraries Bandwidth Toolkit for your state.