Schools and libraries, welcome to the 2017 E-Rate season. We are getting a number of questions as the (yet-to-be-determined) deadline for posting Form 470’s approaches. See also, “What’s the story on the new BadgerNet?” Here’s what we know and recommend.
In the past, many of you authorized TEACH to file your Form 470 for E-Rate for 100 Mbps of BadgerNet “transport” for $250/month. Meanwhile, you filed separately for E-Rate for internet access (“transit”) and chose WiscNet as an Internet Service Provider
As of today, January 18, 2017, the next BadgerNet contract has no alternative Internet Service Provider options; AT&T is it. There is no WiscNet option on the next BadgerNet. Yet.
We (WiscNet, DPI, TEACH) have mentioned a few times that negotiations between WiscNet and AT&T continue. We are working diligently and carefully. I’ll even go as far as saying things are going well. We just aren't there yet.
We know folks are anxious about filing E-Rate. We hear you.
USAC hasn’t announced the last date to post a Form 470. We use February 15, 2017 as our rule of thumb, but this date often shifts.
You may have already filed a Form 470, in which case you are waiting, patiently, for a reply from WiscNet.
Here’s what WiscNet recommends…
- File an E-Rate Form 470 for transport.
- File a second E-Rate Form 470 for transit (aka internet access).
- File a third E-Rate Form 470 for combined transport and transit.
Cover your bases. If you like what “WiscNet on BadgerNet” looks like when this all sorts out, take it. If things go awry, you have backup options. Bonus: You may find others willing to provide better services at lesser rates. While it requires a little extra work and attention on your end, it’s a way to lessen the anxiety many are feeling about hitting E-Rate timelines.
For those who have already filed Form 470’s, patience. We have held off responding until we know more about what this “WiscNet on BadgerNet” option looks like. While we regret the delay, you deserve our best efforts to keep all sustainable, cost-effective, and E-Rate-able options open.
As always, look to Bill Herman (K-12 Schools and CESAs) and Ryan Claringbole (Public Libraries) http://dpi.wi.gov/erate/contacts as experts and for E-Rate guidance from the DPI here in Wisconsin. Bill and Ryan dream about E-Rate so that you and I don’t have to.
We'll continue negotiating with AT&T to keep "WiscNet on BadgerNet" a sustainable, cost-effective, and E-Rate-able solution. Thanks everybody for paying attention, sending in your questions, and for the nice messages of support. We'll be in touch soon.