Background of the Universal Service Fund - E-Rate
Discounted telecommunications rates for libraries and K-12 schools became law on February 8, 1996 when President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996
. Schools and libraries were designated as universal service providers and a
critical link in leveling the playing field in the information age, according to Mary R. Somerville, president of the American Library Association.
As a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Nebraska Public Service Commission assembled a task force composed of representatives from the telecommunications industry, schools, libraries and health care providers. The task force was asked to determine if a need existed for a Nebraska Universal Service Fund and, if so, the size of the fund and how it would be established and managed.
On May 7, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its long-awaited ruling on Universal Service. This program will provide schools and libraries with significant discounts on basic telephone service, advanced telecommunications services, Internet services, and internal connections necessary to enable students and library users to access the information superhighway.
The discounts range from 20% to 90% based on the eligibility for free and reduced price school lunch and the cost of telecommunications in the school or library's service area. Discounts will become available on January 1, 1998.