To All Interconnected VoIP Service Providers –
On April 7, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) published final rules in the Federal Register relating to the Commission‘s E-Rate Program, a federal support mechanism that discounts telecommunications services, Internet access and internal connections for eligible schools and libraries. First, the Commission modified its rules to include interconnected VoIP and text messaging as eligible for E-Rate support. The Commission clarified that special features or software available in conjunction with text messaging services do not qualify as eligible services. The Commission also clarified that Ethernet, web pages protected by usernames and passwords, wireless LAN controllers, user licenses for VoIP systems and virtualization software qualify as eligible services.
Second, the Commission expressly excluded certain services from eligibility including: telephone broadcast messaging, unbundled warranties, power distribution units, softphones, interactive whiteboards and email archiving. And, while the transmission component of video on-demand services remains eligible, the portion of video on-demand servers enabling storage of video does not qualify.
Third, the Commission released the Eligible Services List (“ESL”) identifying qualifying services for E-Rate funding in 2010. The Commission adopted the Universal Service Administrative Company‘s (“USAC”) proposal to include interconnected VoIP among both the enumerated “telecommunications services” and “Internet access” services instead of separately listing the service as “miscellaneous” despite the Commission‘s failure to classify the service for regulatory purposes. The FCC listed text messaging among the eligible telecommunications services. The rules become effective on May 7, 2010.
Clients are advised to review the new E-Rate rules as published in the Federal Register. Clients interested in obtaining E-Rate funding or with questions about the revised rules should contact their assigned attorney for assistance. Questions about this Advisory can also be directed to Jonathan S. Marashlian at (703) 714-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.