Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Step 1 Competitive Bidding

Updated January 2016

Requirements for Leased Dark Fiber

If a school or library is considering seeking support to lease and light dark fiber, the school or library must also solicit proposals to provide the needed services over lit fiber over a time period comparable to the duration of the dark-fiber lease or indefeasible right of use (IRU), and must select the most cost effective option.

If an applicant is also considering the option of requesting support for equipment and maintenance costs associated with lighting leased dark fiber, it must include these elements in the same application as the leased dark fiber so that USAC can easily review all costs together.

If a school or library is considering seeking support for special construction charges associated with leased dark fiber, it must also solicit proposals to provide the needed services over lit fiber.

Requirements for Self-Provisioning of High-Speed Broadband Networks

Applicants considering self-provisioning must solicit bids for both a lit fiber service and a self-provisioned network in the same FCC Form 470, and must provide sufficient detail so that cost-effectiveness can be evaluated based on the total cost of ownership over the useful life of the facility for applicants who pursue the self-provisioning option. Applicants who have received no bids in response to a lit services-only FCC Form 470 posting may seek bids for a self-provisioning option through a second FCC Form 470 posting for the same funding year.

Installment Payments

Applicants are usually required to pay the non-discount share of E-rate Program supported services within 90 days of receipt of service. However, if an applicant is considering seeking support for special construction charges, it may specify on its FCC Form 470 that bidders allow the applicant to pay the non-discount share of special construction charges in installment payments over up to four years.

Bidders are not required to offer installment payments upon request. If an applicant does not request installment payments in its FCC Form 470, or did request it but the vendor declined to offer the option, the applicant must pay its non-discount share of special construction charges within 90 days of receipt of service.

For more information regarding competitive bidding requirements for E-rate Program supported fiber purchases and special construction, see the Fiber FAQs.