Step 2: Responding to Bids
To open a competitive bidding process, applicants post one or more FCC Forms 470 to the USAC website. Service providers can review and respond to bids based on the information contained in an FCC Form 470 and, if one is issued, a request for proposal (RFP) or similar bidding document.
The entity that will run the competitive bidding process – the applicant, a state procurement agency, or another entity authorized to negotiate on the applicant’s behalf – must ensure that the competitive bidding process is open and fair and must be prepared to receive and evaluate bids and negotiate with service providers.
RFPs are not required for Schools and Libraries (E-rate) program purposes, but applicants must issue RFPs if they are required by state or local competitive bidding rules. Applicants may also choose to issue RFPs to provide more information than is available on an FCC Form 470 or for other reasons. If an applicant issues an RFP, it must be attached and uploaded with the online FCC Form 470. If the applicant amends or modifies the RFP, the updated amendment or other bid-related documentation must be added to the FCC Form 470 and uploaded into the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).
Applicants can consider an existing contract as a bid response and evaluate that contract along with the other bids received. The existing contract may be chosen as the winning bid if it is the most cost-effective solution. The date the applicant decided to stay with the existing contract is considered the contract award date for the associated funding year. (This date must be at least 28 days after the applicant posted their FCC Form 470.)
Reviewing the FCC Form 470
There are three ways for service providers to review FCC Form 470 information:
- The View an FCC Form 470 tool allows you to specify one or more criteria (e.g., state, zip code, applicant type) and then perform a search. The search results will show all FCC Forms 470 that match the criteria you selected. You can then review the forms one by one from the list of results.
- The Download 470 Information tool provides a means to download most of the information from posted FCC Forms 470 into a spreadsheet.
- USAC’s Open Data platform allows users to view, search, filter, and manipulate FCC Form 470 information in each dataset and extract that data in a variety of formats, including an API.
Note that there are two additional tools on USAC’s website that can be used to view and download FCC Forms 470 information from Funding Year 2015 and previous years.
Service providers must be compliant with all E-rate program rules and all applicable state and local procurement rules and regulations, including any competitive bidding requirements. You should also review the FCC Form 470 and RFP for specific requirements related to the competitive bidding process and make sure to follow them.
Commercially Available, Business-Class Internet Access
Internet access service may be exempt from the FCC Form 470 posting requirement if the following requirements are met:
- It is commercially available. This means that it is publicly available to non-residential customers (such as enterprise, small business, or other government customers) in the same form and at the same rates that it is offered to schools or libraries. Therefore, it may not be purchased through a master contract signed for just certain customers, even if the contract includes schools and libraries.
- It is low cost. This means that the total annual pre-discount cost for the service, including any one-time costs such as installation, does not exceed $3,600 per year per school or library.
- It is high-speed. This means that the service must provide bandwidth speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream.
The Service Provider’s Role
Your actions must not compromise the competitive bidding process. You should avoid conduct that gives the appearance that the competitive bidding requirements have been compromised or the process is not fair and open.
- You can provide product demonstrations and other information to applicants regarding the products and services you provide before the applicant posts an FCC Form 470. After the FCC Form 470 is posted, you should limit outreach to the applicant to requests for information needed to submit responsive bids. Note that requests for information should not be generic emails or other communications soliciting business, but should be specific and related to posted FCC Forms 470 and RFPs where the available information is not sufficient for you to submit a responsive bid.
- You must not prepare, sign, post, or certify an FCC Form 470. You cannot serve as a contact on this form, nor can your contact information appear on this form.
- Gifts from service providers or potential service providers are prohibited. There are limited exceptions to the gift prohibition, which mirror federal government regulations. You should also be aware of the prohibition of free services.
The services you provide may be eligible, ineligible, or partially or conditionally eligible. Your bid responses (and contracts, if you are chosen as the service provider) should clearly identify ineligible services and provide cost allocations for services that are partially or conditionally eligible.
If your bid is chosen as the most cost-effective service offering by an applicant, you can negotiate a contract (for services other than those provided under tariff or a month-to-month arrangement) with the applicant, and you can assist the applicant, as needed, with filing the FCC Form 471 and undergoing application review that may require additional information about the requested services and/or equipment.