E-Rate Funding Can Support Wi-Fi on School Buses

FCC has Announced that E-Rate Funding Can Support Wi-Fi on School Buses – The final 2024 E-rate Eligible Service List (ESL) was released. You can find it here DA-23-1171A1.pdf (fcc.gov).

While we knew that Wi-Fi on school buses was going to be eligible for the 2024 E-Rate funding year, USAC has now provided more information about what is eligible and how to apply. We’ve provided an overview below, but you can find more information in the linked ESL and in the December 16, 2023 USAC E-Rate News Brief.

Starting with the 2024 E-Rate funding year, Wi-Fi on school buses will be eligible as a Category 1 service. Applicants can request funding for wireless internet service and equipment needed to provide Wi-Fi on school buses as a Category 1 service. Just like all other E-Rate products and services, Wi-Fi on school buses must be competitively bid and you must select the most cost-effective option.

A few things to keep in mind while you consider applying for school bus Wi-Fi:

  • School bus Wi-Fi must have content and user network restrictions consistent with the restrictions that schools place on their building-based networks, as described in their Acceptable Use Policies.
  • Applicants must have the same CIPA required content filtering capabilities in place for their school bus Wi-Fi as they do for the school-based networks.
  • School bus Wi-Fi can be installed on school-owned, leased, or contracted school buses provided that the school buses are used primarily to transport students to and from school and school related activities for educational purposes.
  • Not eligible:
    • Occasionally used chartered buses.
    • Municipally and city buses generally used for the transport of non-students.
    • Other types of school-owned, leased, or contracted vehicles, like vans and cars.
    • School bus Wi-Fi Maintenance and operation services
  • Applicants will own the E-Rate funded equipment and are expected to work with their leased or contracted school bus provider to maintain an accurate asset inventory of the E-Rate funded equipment.
  • School bus Wi-Fi is only permitted during school bus’s normal operating hours – when students are being transported to and from school or school related activities or when there is a clear educational purpose for enabling school bus Wi-Fi outside these hours.
  • Schools are required to disable school bus Wi-Fi connections outside these permitted uses.

To bid out Wi-Fi on school buses, you will need to know the following:

  • Number of buses being outfitted with Wi-Fi.
  • Are you seeking service only or service and equipment (antennas, routers, modems)?
  • Do you need installation of the products/services?
  • Any information you have regarding minimum and maximum upload and download speeds and preferred make/model of any equipment.
  • You are strongly encouraged to provide geographic location/route information of the buses along with any service requirements.

If you want to apply for school bus Wi-Fi or if you have any questions please feel free to contact us at info@erateadvantage.com.

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