In Idaho, there are now 73 public libraries participating in E-rate — which sets a new record in the Gem State. Through the federal E-rate program and the state’s Education Opportunity Resource Act (EOR), these libraries get 100% of their broadband costs covered.

The E-rate* program, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is the federal mechanism that helps ensure schools and libraries can obtain high-speed internet access and telecommunications at affordable rates. E-rate provides discounted internet service with discounts ranging from 20% to 90% of the cost of the services. The portion of the costs not discounted (covered) under E-rate can then be eligible for reimbursement under EOR.

As an example, if staff of a public library in Idaho apply for and receive a discount of 80% on the library’s internet bill under E-rate, they would then apply to get the remaining 20% reimbursed under EOR — bringing their internet cost to zero.

In Idaho, for the FY20 E-rate funding year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021), $656,241.44 was requested from USAC; of that, EOR will cover $188,148.88.

So, if your public library doesn’t participate in E-rate, what’s holding you back? Maybe you think E-rate and EOR are too complicated. Or that the process takes too much time. That your library’s internet is just fine as it is — and it’s already free. Or, maybe you just can’t stand one more acronym.

Did you know? E-rate can also provide funding support for new network firewalls/routers, wireless access points, switches, and even someone to help manage and configure your internet and wireless connections!

Before you give up on E-rate, get in touch with me. I am William Lamb, the new library technology consultant at the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL). I coordinate E-rate and EOR for the public libraries in Idaho, and I would love to help you get high-quality internet service for your library for little or no cost.

I’ll be up-front with you. There are hoops to jump through with E-rate. But I will help you jump through them each and every time. (Yes, you have to apply every year, but don’t let that discourage you!)

If you are ready to pursue E-rate, or if you have questions about it, please reach out. My email is, and my direct phone line is 208-639-4135.

*The E-rate program is formally known as the universal service Schools and Libraries Program.