E-rate changes prompt new voice options for schools

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If the Federal Communications Commission has its way, the E-rate no longer will support voice services within the next five years, including plain old telephone service, toll-free service, and even voice over IP (VoIP).

Beginning with the 2015 funding year, schools will see their discount percentage on eligible voice services reduced by 20 percentage points each year, until they no longer receive any voice-related support.

The FCC says it will evaluate the effects of this change after two years and will decide at that time whether to continue. In making this change, the FCC aims to transform the E-rate from a telecommunications program to a broadband program.

The agency acknowledges that schools will have to pay more for voice-related services, but the savings they’ll realize on broadband services could help offset this cost, officials say.

E-rate changes prompt new voice options for schools