Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Step 1 Competitive Bidding

Updated September 2015


A competitive bidding process is a formal process to identify and request the products and services you need so that potential service providers can review those requests and submit bids for them. To open the process, post an FCC Form 470 to the USAC website.

The entity that will run the competitive bidding process - which may be you, a state procurement agency, or another entity that you have authorized to negotiate on your behalf with a Letter of Agency (LOA) - files an FCC Form 470 (Description of Services Requested and Certification) and must be prepared to receive and evaluate bids and negotiate with service providers.

Filing an FCC Form 470

The FCC Form 470 for the upcoming funding year is generally available on the USAC website one year before the start of the funding year. Once the FCC Form 470 is available online, it can be certified and posted.

After the FCC Form 470 is certified and posted to the USAC website, USAC will issue an FCC Form 470 Receipt Notification Letter (RNL) to an entity's E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) account. Applicants can edit some fields in a certified FCC Form 470. Allowable changes include the following: editing an application name, main contact person, and/or technical contact person, and adding an RFP document (when one or more RFP documents were previously uploaded).

Applicants must wait at least 28 days from the date the FCC Form 470 is posted before closing the competitive bidding process.

Services provided under tariff or on a month-to-month basis require an FCC Form 470 to be posted each year. However, if a multi-year contract results from the competitive bidding process, it is not necessary to post a new FCC Form 470 until a new contract is required.

If a consultant is assisting you with the application process, you must go to your organization profile in EPC, add your consultant in the "Manage Your Organization Relationships" area of your account, and identify your consultant on your FCC Form 470.

Requests for Proposal

The entity filing an FCC Form 470 can issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) in addition to the FCC Form 470. In general, an RFP is a formal bidding document that describes the project and requested services in sufficient detail so that potential bidders understand the scope, location, and any other requirements. However, we use "RFP" or "RFP document" generically to refer to any bidding document that describes your project and requested services in more detail than in the fields provided on the FCC Form 470.

You are not required to issue an RFP unless your state or local procurement rules or regulations require you to do so. However, if you have issued or intend to issue an RFP or similar document, the RFP document or documents must be uploaded to your online FCC Form 470.

Note that there are additional competitive bidding requirements for dark fiber and for self-construction of fiber networks.

Exemption from Filing an FCC Form 470

Commercially available business class Internet access services are exempt from the FCC Form 470 posting requirement if they cost $3,600 or less annually (including any one-time costs such as installation), provide bandwidth speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream, and provide basic conduit access to the Internet at those required minimum speeds.

Open and Fair Process

The entity filing the FCC Form 470 must ensure that the competitive bidding process is open and fair:

  • All bidders must be treated the same.
  • No bidder can have advance knowledge of the project information.
  • There are no secrets in the process - such as information shared with one bidder but not with others - and that all bidders know what is required of them.
  • With limited exceptions, service providers and potential service providers cannot give gifts to applicants.
  • In addition, the value of free services (e.g., price reductions, promotional offers, free products) must generally be deducted from the pre-discount cost of funding requests.

Next Step

Once the competitive bidding process has closed, the entity that filed the FCC Form 470 must evaluate the bids received and select the service provider(s) that will provide the requested services as described in the next step, Selecting Service Providers.