Hosted VoIP is the Solution – Erate Phasing Down Support for Voice Services

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e-rate cutbacks

Erate Funding Ends in 2018 – Hosted VoIP Gains Traction

Here is a direct quote from the FCC’s website. Hosted VoIP could be the solution you are looking for.

” The Order starts a phase down of support for voice services. Specifically, the discount rate applicants receive for voice services will be reduced by 20 percentage points every funding year beginning in funding year 2015. This phase down will apply to all costs incurred for the provision of telephone services and circuit capacity dedicated to providing voice services, including: local phone service, long distance service, plain old telephone services, radio loop, 800 service, satellite telephone, shared telephone service, Centrex, wireless telephone service such as cellular, and interconnected VoIP. Over the first two years of this phase down, WCB will evaluate the impact of this phase down on schools and libraries. If the FCC takes no further action on this phase down by the opening of the funding year window for funding year 2018, this phase down will continue.”

Schools Budgets for Voice Services

Schools across the country had their budgets for voice built around the Erate program for voice services. The FCC started cutting funding in 2015 and the funding will be reduced to zero by 2018. This was announced two years ago so I am sure by now you are aware of the this news.

I am writing this article to present a way to overcome those budget shortfalls. A lot of Telecom Companies have been making huge profits off of the Erate program and they now will pass that expense to your school district. One silver lining here is that they are increasing broadband funding which in most cases will support the new medium for voice services, VoIP.

How VoIP Will Help Schools Moving Forward

The FCC has increased funding for Internet service and Category two services such as network devices. This enables schools to build robust network platforms that are perfectly suited for VoIP. VoIP is the answer for schools with an impending decrease in funds for voice services. Because of major competition in technology and providers surrounding VoIP in the last three years, it is now cheaper than ever to use Hosted VoIP.

Hosted VoIP can be leveraged to make the difference in hiring teachers and cutting back on staff and other budget items. There is little to no upfront cost for implementing Hosted VoIP for schools. In most cases the handsets and sometimes the PBX can be reused to accommodate VoIP. Usually, more than not older PBX’s cannot support VoIP.

One benefit of Hosted VoIP is there is no expensive equipment to purchase up front. Capital investments to move to on premise VoIP PBX’s like Cisco are cost prohibitive. To really make VoIP cost effective the investment in on premise equipment needs to be minimized. If at all possible handsets need to be re-used and as budgets allow those can be replaced over time to more modern handsets with more features.

Each School Has a Unique Situation With Voice Services

There is no cookie cutter approach for every school when it comes to voice services. Schools have been sold many different PBX’s (phone systems) over the years and we try to take each school’s situation one-by-one. There is a lot you can do to save money on your PBX, we can get very creative when it comes to VoIP and how to integrate those services.

Here are a few ideas;

  • Re-use handsets
  • Use software based clients that come with our Hosted PBX
  • Get rid of PRI circuits, they are antiquated and VoIP SIP is much cheaper
  • Leverage your existing Internet connection with SIP Trunks
  • Move to a Hosted PBX solution to save on capital expenditures
  • Cut back DID’s (Phone Numbers) with VoIP you no longer need hundreds of phone numbers
  • Buy less expensive handsets like Yealink, can save you thousands over the price of Cisco
  • Use WebRTC for conferencing
  • Utilize the Apps on your cell phone that come with our Hosted PBX solution

We truly want to help you overcome the obstacles you are facing with your voice systems for your school. We understand the challenges you face with losing funding from the Erate program for Voice Services.

How We Slash Your Phone Bill with Our Hosted PBX

Austen Consultants has been helping schools overcome the obstacles from the cuts in Erate funding. Our team is prepared to give you an honest assessment of the situation you are facing with the Erate cuts in voice services. We are experienced in providing granular solutions to help drive down costs while still providing the best service and features available in the Hosted PBX industry.

More often than not we can cut costs to voice services for schools for as much or lower than what your Erate covered. We have a passion for technology and helping schools find solutions to overcome those obstacles. We keep overhead low and we pass the savings onto you.

We would be happy to give you an assessment of the current state of your voice system and PBX and let you know what you need to do to move forward with a VoIP solution for your school. We offer Hosted PBX solutions and a pricing model that will save you thousands. On premise solutions are also available if you would like to host your own PBX system. We can provide the equipment and support to help you succeed no matter which platform you go with.

Call us today 1-800-817-7845 or email



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