Comcast Business Class is testing a program that will allow its indirect sales partners to sell discounted telecommunications services to schools and libraries under the federal government’s E-rate program.
The is the second pilot the company has initiated with its partner program. Comcast Business also is trialing its hospitality service sales through select sales partners.
The E-rate program is administered by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The program was set up in 1997 when the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Universal Service Order implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Order was designed to ensure that all eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services. Up to $2.25 billion annually is available to provide eligible schools and libraries with discounts under the E-rate program for authorized services.
Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channels for Comcast Business, told Channel Partners that the cableco has selected three partners — one each in the Northeast, West and Central regions — to participate in the E-rate pilot program. He expects the trial to run through April 2013. At that time a limited number of partners will be allowed to join the program on a very select basis.
The reason, Schlagbaum said, is that it requires Comcast to allow agents to use the company’s Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) and to follow very specific procedures in order for the customer to receive the proper discounts.
Schlagbaum said many carriers will not allow their channel partners to use their numbers because it is a complex process, but he is optimistic that it will prove to be successful.
Trial partners have begun training and will be tasked with optimizing process for a larger group of partners to participate in 2013.