COVID-19 Update: USAC remains open for business—Washington, DC office closed. Learn more about USF program responses


Eligible Fiber Services

Eligible Fiber Services and Charges

Q1: What are the fiber services eligible for E-rate support and how do they differ?
Q2: When are the recurring charges associated with leased lit fiber, leased dark fiber, and self-provisioned networks eligible for E-rate support?
Q3: What is special construction?
Q4: Can applicants incur charges for special construction in one funding year and light the fiber in a later funding year? Stated differently, can applicants request support for special construction of fiber that is not lit, or a self-provisioned network that is not used (if another technology is employed), within the funding year of my funding request?
Q5: What if special construction for a fiber run or network cannot be completed in one year because of the terrain, the extensiveness of the build, or other foreseeable factors? Are there any exceptions that will let me seek special construction charges for fiber that is not lit within the same funding year as the funding request?
Q6: What can an applicant do if the scope of the project might prevent them from completing construction and lighting the fiber by June 30?
Q7: What if my special construction project is delayed by an extreme weather event, a natural disaster, or other unforeseen, unavoidable factor?
Q8: What is Network Equipment?
Q9: How do I know when on-premise equipment is Network Equipment eligible for Category One support or an internal connection eligible for Category Two support?
Q10: If on-premise equipment performs both Category One and Category Two functions, and it is determined that it qualifies as Category One Network Equipment, does an applicant have to cost-allocate anything out of their funding request due to the Category Two functionality?
Q11: May I request E-rate support for new Network Equipment and Maintenance and Operations (M&O) charges for an existing leased dark fiber or self-provisioned network?
Q12: So, to recap, of the charges I may incur for each type of eligible fiber service, which are eligible for E-rate support?
Q13: I understand that special construction charges incurred after the close of the funding year (i.e. June 30) are ineligible for E-rate support. Is it possible for me to start work early and incur charges for special construction and Network Equipment purchases incurred prior to the July 1 start of the funding year?

Requesting Bids for Fiber Services – FCC Form 470 & Requests for Proposal (RFPs)

Q14: Are there any competitive bidding requirements applicable to leased dark fiber?
Q15: If I have a pre-existing, multi-year dark fiber lease or an IRU, do I need to post a new FCC Form 470 for the current funding year and request competitive leased lit fiber bids?
Q16: What is the competitive bidding requirement applicable to self-provisioned networks?
Q17: Is “services provided over third-party networks” a technology-neutral standard? What if I’m only interested in bids for a fiber service?
Q18: Are there any competitive bidding requirements applicable to leased lit fiber?
Q19: How do I request bids for fiber services? Do I have to attach a separate Request for Proposal (RFP)?
Q20: What if I don’t seek bids for fiber on the FCC Form 470 itself, but I do request fiber bids in an attached RFP? Does that satisfy E-rate Program rules requiring a fair and open competitive bidding process?
Q21: Can the applicant state that they would prefer to self-provision a network over a leased lit fiber or leased dark fiber solution? Can the applicant state that they would prefer a leased dark fiber solution over a leased lit fiber or self-provisioning a network?
Q22: If I post a separate RFP, should I identify all of the services for which I am seeking bids in that RFP, or is it enough to just have those services identified in the FCC Form 470?
Q23: What kind of information should I include in an FCC Form 470 and/or RFP seeking bids for fiber services?
Q24: What if I do not expressly request bids for special construction in conjunction with my FCC Form 470 seeking bids for a fiber service? Can a service provider still include special construction charges in their proposal?
Q25: Do I need to do anything during the competitive bidding process to indicate that I would like service providers to offer an installment payment option for my non-discount share of special construction charges?
Q26: How do I seek bids for Network Equipment?
Q27: How do I seek bids for Maintenance & Operations (M&O) services for a leased dark fiber or self-provisioned network?
Q28: If I’m seeking bids for Network Equipment or Maintenance and Operations (M&O) services for an existing leased dark fiber or self-provisioned network, what are the competitive bidding requirements?

Selecting the Most Cost-Effective Service Offering

Q30: How do I determine the elements for a cost comparison between leased dark fiber vs. leased lit fiber; leased dark fiber vs. self-provisioned networks; and self-provisioned networks vs. services provided over third party networks?

Preparing a Fiber Funding Request (FCC Form 471)

Q31: What are the different types of funding requests that I may need to include in my FCC Form 471 if I request E-rate support for leased dark fiber or a self-provisioned network?
Q32: What types of funding requests might an applicant file when seeking support for leased lit fiber?
Q33: Do I have to include all funding requests related to the same requested service in one FCC Form 471?
Q34: What helpful information should I put in the narrative of a special construction funding request?
Q36: Can you explain the requirements regarding installment payments for the non-discount share of special construction charges?
Q37: Can I obtain additional E-rate support to match funding that I receive from my state, Tribal government, or other federal agency for special construction charges?
Q38: What will USAC evaluate to determine if I may receive additional E-rate discounts to match state, Tribal, or federal funding for my special construction funding request?
Q39: Does USAC have a list of state, federal, or Tribal sources of funding that have been deemed eligible for the purposes of obtaining additional E-rate discounts for special construction charges?

Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) Review

Q40: What kind of information should I be prepared to provide to USAC to demonstrate that I have selected the most cost-effective solution for my connectivity needs?
Q41: I understand that USAC might ask very technical and detailed questions about my fiber build. I’m not an engineer or techie. Is there someone who can help me understand the information that the questions are asking for and whether I’m providing USAC with the correct information?
Q42: I understand the questions, but I do not have all of the information that PIA reviewer has requested. Do I still have to respond to the questions? If so, what do I do?


Q43: May I submit “milestone” invoices in connection with my special construction project, or do I need to wait until the project is complete and the new fiber is lit to submit an invoice to USAC?

General Tips

Q44: Does USAC have representatives who can explain the rules and help provide basic guidance as we consider the self-construction option?
Q45: Are applicants required to exclusively own and use the entire self-provisioned network?