Bell Atlantic Champions Universal Service Fund Projects
Technology Experts, Sales Teams Working with Schools, Libraries
to Bring Internet Access, Technology into Classrooms
March 12, 1998
"Schools and libraries seeking discounts on educational technology
through a federal initiative, known as the Universal
Service Fund program, are getting a helping hand from a team of Bell
Atlantic employees dedicated to maximizing the impact of the program.
Corporate account managers, systems engineers and technology experts
from Bell Atlantic's Large Business Services and General Business
Services teams are providing assistance along with experts from Bell
Atlantic Network Integration, Inc. (BANI) and Bell Atlantic Internet
Solutions (BAIS), two subsidiaries.
"Bell Atlantic is encouraging as many schools and libraries as
possible to develop technology plans and apply for funding," said
Frank Gumper, Bell Atlantic vice president - Public Policy, and a
member of the board of directors of the Schools and Libraries
Corporation (SLC). The SLC was created to administer the fund. "Bell
Atlantic has been a leader in connecting schools to the information
highway. The schools, libraries and communities we serve should take
advantage of this educational funding opportunity for all children."
Bell Atlantic employees are developing tailored solutions to bring
interactive distance learning, video conferencing, school-to-home
applications, Internet access services and other innovations to
thousands of schools over the next four years. Bell Atlantic provides
the network infrastructure and voice, data, Internet and video
products and services to support these applications, and will be
making both consolidated and service-by-service bids on some of the
Along with other regional telecommunications providers and long
distance carriers, Bell Atlantic, under a formula prescribed by the
Federal Communications Commission, has made significant contributions
to the Universal Service Fund, a federal initiative designed, in part,
to bring technology and Internet access into every classroom across
the country. Under the program, schools can buy telecommunications
services and technologies at discounts of 20 to 90 percent. So far,
more than 20,000 applications from public and private schools and
libraries have been filed nationwide for discounts through the
During an initial 75-day window that runs through April 15,
applications for 1998 funding will be considered simultaneously.
After that, applicants will vie for funding on a first-come,
first-served basis. As applications are filed, descriptions of
requested services (shown on Form 470) are posted on the SLC's web
site http://www.slcfund.org, where potential suppliers can review
them and offer proposals to provide the services outlined.
Bell Atlantic is circulating guidelines that explain the program and
the best ways for schools to employ technology in support of
educational and administrative excellence. A company-sponsored Web
site, http://www.bellatlantic.com/edk-12, a Web site sponsored by
Ed-LinC http://www.eratehotline.org, and a toll-free hotline
(1-800-733-6860) sponsored by Bell Atlantic and staffed by USF
specialists, are also available to help school administrators
understand and use the program.
"In addition to our information campaign, our technology teams and
sales staffs are working overtime, reviewing technology plans and
requests for service, and developing customized solutions for these
important customers," said Bob Sarelakos, director - Universal Service
Fund, K-12 Market Management. "We have the systems in place to handle
the new accounts, the service installation and the equipment
acquisitions this program will generate."
Under the program guidelines, most networking costs and
telecommunications expenses --including local service, installation and
wiring, are eligible for the discounts, as are networking technologies
like traffic routers, hubs and concentrators that make local and wide
area networks possible. BANI, a recognized industry leader in
providing local and wide area network integration services, and BAIS,
an Internet services provider, are critical partners with the Bell
Atlantic network companies.
Bell Atlantic has also committed resources through its local telephone
companies and the Bell Atlantic Foundation to support teacher training
and program content that will fuel the use of the new technology.
Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -
is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six million
wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier
providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders
in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's
largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with
operations and investments in 21 countries.
TO SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES
RESTON, Va. - Early this year Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions (BAIS)
created an helpful information kit to assist schools and libraries
interested in taking advantage of the funding opportunities afforded
by the Universal Service Fund (USF) program.
BAIS mailed USF Kits in February to virtually all the 3,000 school and
library districts in the mid-Atlantic region where the company
currently is allowed under Federal regulation to provide dedicated
Internet access services. The kit includes:
- Seven-Step Guide to the USF Process
- List of informative Web sites
- A typical "Proposal for an Internet Solution" that can be used in
filling out the "Summary Description of Needs or Services
Requested" portion of the USF Form 470.
Bell Atlantic mailed these kits because it realized time is of the
essence for schools and libraries seeking the steep discounts
available to eligible organizations within an initial 75-day funding
Bell Atlantic also realized many school and library administrators may
be unfamiliar with the sometimes arcane language of Internet services
and may welcome help in navigating the USF program in a timely manner.
Results To Date of Bell Atlantic Effort
As of March 9, BAIS had received nearly 3,400 USF Form 470s posted by
eligible schools and libraries in the Bell Atlantic region. The Form
470s, which constitute sales leads from the BAIS perspective, are
flowing in at an average rate of 100 per business day. BAIS is
evaluating and responding to these 470s as appropriate through its
eight-month old Proposal Response Center. The Response Center uses an
automated process based on World Wide Web technology to deliver winning
responses to "Requests for Proposals" in just five business days. The
industry norm for a response is about three weeks.
Perhaps 10-20 percent of the Form 470 leads result in genuine sales
opportunities. Once an opportunity is identified it is sent to a
telemarketing center or, if the customer has complex needs, the
opportunity is sent to an account executive for follow-up. Bell
Atlantic has found that prospective customers contacted for follow-up
almost invariably recall the Bell Atlantic USF Kit.