1.5B Dollars available this Year for Schools and available for the channel to improve education

March opens up another year for Erate 470 applications for schools – is it too late for me to participate as an MSP? The answer is no if we move fast and armed with the right approach.

MSPs have the opportunity to provide to provide a managed service solution to the K12 market end user community in the USA through the Erate program. Within 2017’s Erate Program, the United States Federal Government has allocated 1.5B dollars or more to support technology solutions into the Public K12 end user community. This includes managed internal broadband services which is a tremendous managed services solution opportunity as well as traditional capital expenditure purchases.

There are two categories, Category 2 for technology purchases and Category 1 for carrier services. Managed services solutions predominantly fall in Category 2 because the Federal Government allows internal broadband technology from the buckets below to be rented, leased, monitored and managed by the provider for the school district as an eligible funding solution this year. Below are the technology buckets that are eligible for Erate in Category 2.

  1. Firewall solutions
  2. Caching Services
  3. Wired Switches / Routers
  4. Wireless LAN Technology
  5. Cable Infrastructure
  6. Cloud based and virtualization software only for virtualization of the technology solutions above

The one exception for Category 1 is managed firewall services. This is a key opportunity for a Managed Services Security Provider (MSSP). MSSPs’ can offer managed firewall services in conjunction with an Internet Service Provider. If you are a hosting company with a firewall and security solutions –this may be an opportunity for you.

If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, there three critical steps to your success as an eligible service provider:

Step #1: Register with the Erate program and with the FCC and acquire a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) . According to the FCC, services provided by a third party for the operation, management, and monitoring of eligible broadband internal connections are eligible for managed internal broadband services (e.g., managed Wi-Fi). Jim Kerr, CEO KB & Associates LLC, a company that offers a software as a service database called Erate Profitwerks, recommends that managed service and solution providers be very cautious when completing the applications because it’s easy to inadvertently end up in the wrong category with the FCC, thereby losing time and making you ineligible.

To complete the SPIN process, you need:

  1. FCC Registration number (FRN): Here is the link to register for your FRN: https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do
  2. Tax ID
  3. DUNS #
  4. Bank routing information for electronic payment
  5. Primary contact and Executive signatory information

Step #2: Once you have obtained your SPIN, you can begin acquiring leads from the approximately 8000 Erate applications that will be filed this year. You can obtain those leads either directly through the FCC website: https://data.usac.org/publicreports/Forms/Form470Rfp/Index or through a company with a K12 Erate lead generation source and software designed to assist and ease the burden of the process. Companies often wrap consulting and advisory services around their lead gen sourcing software as well.

Step #3: Respond to the opportunities presented in the form 470s. Shotgun approaches have won business. However, Kerr’s recommendation is to engage in a focused marketing and targeted business development campaign that meshes with your territory footprint, preferred size of client, and company strengths. You can establish the search criteria in the database to obtain your list of targets with the answers to these questions: What size client am I interested in? What type of schools to I want to engage? What solutions do I want to pursue with the K12 market clients? What geography am I interested in? Who do I know already from the contacts listed in the database?

As you quickly develop your focused business development plan, it’s important to remember that K12 school district decision makers cannot receive gifts or entertainment in excess of 20$. Violating this new policy can make you ineligible to participate in the program. This is a complex market; but one that holds strong opportunity in 2017 for MSPs and Solution Providers across America.