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Updated September 2017
There are three types of fiber services eligible for Category One E-rate support:
Note: Although included as a fiber option, a self-provisioned network may utilize technologies other than fiber.
Applicants may request Category One support for the following charges related to each type of fiber service, subject to program rules:
|Leased Lit Fiber||Leased Dark Fiber||Self-Provisioned Networks|
- Monthly recurring charges
- Recurring dark fiber lease or indefensible rights of use (IRU) payments
- Maintenance and operations (M&O) charges
For the purposes of the E-rate Program, special construction charges are the upfront, non-recurring costs of deploying new fiber or upgraded facilities to E-rate eligible entities. Special construction consists of three components:
Special construction does not include charges for Network Equipment, i.e., modulating electronics and other equipment necessary to make a Category One service functional.
An applicant may not receive E-rate support for recurring charges for leased lit fiber or leased dark fiber until the fiber is lit. Additionally an applicant may not receive E-rate support for special construction related to leased lit fiber or leased dark fiber if the fiber is not lit by the end of the funding year (i.e., June 30). Similarly, applicants may only receive E-rate support for a self-provisioned network if the network is constructed and is in use within the funding year.
If an applicant cannot meet the June 30 deadline to complete special construction and light the new fiber because construction was unavoidably delayed due to weather or other reasons, they may request a one-year extension to complete special construction and light the fiber (or use the self-provisioned network if another technology is employed). Please contact the Client Service Bureau at 888-203-8100 for additional information.
Program rules permit applicants to request E-rate discounts for special construction charges incurred up to six months prior to the July 1 start of the funding year (i.e., on or after January 1), provided that:
Applicants that choose to start special construction prior to receiving a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) approving a special construction funding request, assume the risk that the funding request may be denied or reduced.
Program rules contain specific competitive bidding requirements for leased dark fiber and self-provisioned networks:
Remember that applicants seeking bids for leased dark fiber and self-provisioned networks must seek bids for their Internet access service separately in an FCC Form 470 posting and seek E-rate support for Internet access service in a separate FCC Form 471 funding request.
Applicants must consider all responsive proposals received and select the most cost-effective service offering using price as the primary factor. When comparing the cost-effectiveness of the three fiber service offerings – leased lit fiber, leased dark fiber, self-provisioned networks – the expected useful life of the asset is a key consideration when comparing the combined upfront and recurring costs.
See Competitive Bidding Requirements for Leased Dark Fiber & Self-Provisioned Networks and the Fiber Services FAQ for additional information on competitive bidding and conducting a cost-effectiveness review for fiber services.
Typically, an applicant is required to pay the non-discount share of E-rate Program supported services within 90 days of receipt of service. If an applicant is considering seeking support for special construction charges, the applicant may request that bidders allow for the non-discount share of these charges to be paid in installments up to four years from the first day of the relevant funding year. This request for installment payments must be included in the applicant's FCC Form 470.
Bidders are not required to offer installment payments, but if they choose to do so they must disclose the material terms, including the interest rate and terms of the payment plan, in their bid submission. If installment payments are not requested on the FCC Form 470, or were declined by the selected vendor as an option, the non-discount share of special construction charges must be paid by the applicant within 90 days of receipt of service.
Applicants may request additional E-rate discounts to match state funding for special construction projects that meet the FCC's long-term connectivity goals. The E-rate Program will increase an applicant's discount rate for the special construction charges up to an additional ten percent that match the state funding on a one-to-one dollar basis.
Tribal schools and libraries may also receive up to an additional ten percent in E-rate discounts, on a one-to-one dollar basis, for eligible special construction projects to match funding from states, Tribal governments, or other federal agencies. However, total support for a special construction project through the E-rate Program including matching funds from a state, Tribal governments, or other federal agencies may not exceed 100 percent.
For additional information, see Additional Discount to Match State/Tribal Funding for Special Construction.
For additional information about the E-rate requirements applicable to funding requests for fiber services, please see the Fiber Service FAQ page.