Telecommunications Discounts for Schools and Libraries: The 'E-Rate' Program and Controversies [Updated September 15, 2004] [open pdf - 99KB]
"Passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104) codified the long standing policy commitment to ensure universal service in the provision of telecommunications services. The 1996 Act also expanded the concept to include, among other principles, that elementary schools and classrooms, and libraries should have access to telecommunications services for educational purposes at discounted rates. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was tasked with implementing the universal provisions of the Act and on May 7, 1997, adopted its order detailing its guidelines. Included within that order was the establishment of the schools and libraries, or Erate, program. Under this program telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections will be provided at discounts ranging from 20% to 90 % to eligible schools and libraries."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98040