The public sector, including all branches of government along with K–12 and higher education markets, represents a multibillion-dollar opportunity for IT solution providers. A crucial part of winning business in this market is understanding the opportunity window, especially as it applies to E-rate, the name given to the program created by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). E-rate provides eligible schools and libraries with telecommunications, internet access and internal connections at rates discounted from 20% to 90%. E-rate program funding is based on demand up to an annual Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-established cap of $3.9 billion.
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 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, Cisco and Ingram Micro created special programs and tools for Cisco partners, including the Ingram Micro Public Sector Advantage program, which includes support for E-rate opportunities.
Simplify E-rate builds with the Cisco K–12 Configurator
The Cisco Commerce Solution Advisor portal includes a K–12 Configurator tool designed to help partners minimize the time to build bills of materials (BOMs) for access switching and wireless. The tool is part of the existing Build & Price Configuration Advisor workflow. Highlights of the K–12 Configurator tool include:
- Asks 12 to 13 questions and provides three options to choose from (best competitive, value optimized, balanced performance)
- Targeted for BOMs for less than 10,000 students ?
- Support for Cisco access switching and wireless ?
- Support for Meraki MR access points and Meraki MS switching product lines, Catalyst 2960-X and 3650 Series switches, Mobility Express, Cisco WLC, Cisco Aironet 1850 Series access points with Wave 2 and Cisco Connected Education SKUs ?
- After making a selection, the BOM will be converted to a CCW (Cisco Commerce Workspace) quote ?
- Multiple options can be chosen if multiple quotes are requested (e.g., a cloud quote and an on-premises quote). Please direct your feedback to usK12CAsupport@cisco.com. ?
An exclusive Cisco K–12 promo
Cisco is offering a special K–12 (and libraries) sales incentive on 5-year Meraki licenses, which includes significant discounts on Meraki MR, MS and MX product licenses associated with new hardware purchases (not valid on renewals). Talk to your Meraki sales representative for more details or visit http://meraki.cisco.com/k12.