E-rate not only provides funding for telecommunications purchases, it also increases a customer's overall buying power. At the same time, it drives other purchasing timelines, impacts bidding procedures and is an excellent way to gain the K-12 education CIO's attention.
How does it work? First, a school or library submits a request for competitive bids for the specific E-rate supported services it seeks to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The USAC posts requests on its website for vendors to see. The school or library reviews bids, then selects its preferred vendor(s) and submits an application to USAC for approval listing its desired purchases.
Once approved, the USAC issues funding commitments to eligible participants. After a vendor provides the selected services to the applicant, the vendor or the applicant submits requests to USAC for reimbursement of the approved discounts.
As you can imagine, the USAC E-rate program can be complicated to navigate. To make this process a little easier, IT solution providers can join the Ingram Micro Public Sector Advantage program, which includes support for E-rate opportunities.
Timing plays a key role in capitalizing on E-rate opportunities. In fact, there are events and deadlines occurring right now that IT solution providers should be paying attention to. Earlier this month, for example, U.S. schools and libraries interested in obtaining E-rate funding had to submit a request form (Form 470), which is required to request competitive bids from suppliers of eligible products and services. The next deadline, which originally was Friday, April 29, for schools and libraries to submit Form 471, (also known as the Services Ordered and Certification Form) was recently extended by the USAC to Thursday, May 26.
We are in the midst of the E-rate season, and you don’t want to miss out on this huge opportunity. At Ingram Micro, we have dedicated E-rate resources to assist you. For details, contact Samantha Guyett, Cisco channel account specialist at Ingram Micro at (716) 633-3600, ext. 65128. Stay tuned, too, for our next blog, which will highlight a special E-rate incentive for Cisco partners.