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E-rate Funding for Libraries: Fiber Consortium

Federal funding for telephone and internet access

Connecticut Libraries Fiber Consortium

In November 2017, the CT State Library established a statewide buying consortium so that all principal public libraries and their branches in the state could use one RFP for the purchase of leased lit fiber, leased dark fiber, or self-provisioned dark fiber. This page is written for libraries that choose to contract for services under this RFP.

Libraries are under no obligation to order services.

If you have any questions, please contact Maria Bernier, the state library's E-rate Coordinator, at maria.bernier@ct.gov or 860-704-2204.

See also the page on CIPA and Filters for information on that subject.

Documents for libraries participating in Project Year 2

Documents for libraries that participated in Project Year 1

What to do and When

What you need to do first:

  1. Talk to your board/town government and IT contact
    • Review Letter of Agency to be sent to CSL.
    • Arrange for municipality to grant contractor right of way permission for municipal-owned properties and roadways.
  2. Communicate with State Library
    • Sign and send in the Letter of Agency.
  3. EPC - USAC's online application portal for E-rate
    • Watch videos from USAC on how to use EPC.
    • If you do not have an EPC username and password, contact USAC's Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 on weekdays between 8 AM and 8 PM. Tell the operator that you are an applicant, you don't know your entity number (unless you do!), and you need to become the account administrator.
    • Sign in to EPC (https://portal.usac.org/suite/) and update library's profile information, including FCC registration number (find yours or register for a new number), square footage, library sub-type, school district in which main branch is located, latitude and longitude, and urban/rural status.
    • Check your discount rate.
    • Answer multiple-choice Connectivity Questions under "Related Actions" menu - actual (not maximum) upload and download speeds (can be tested through a site such as speedtest.net), connection type, wifi quality, and barriers to creating a robust internal network.

Contracting for services and filing Form 471

Contract matters (do this by the E-rate filing window deadline):

  1. Review quote and draft contract provided to you by the vendor.
  2. Contact the vendor to sign official contract, and save a copy for your files.
  3. Download or print a copy of the "Instructions to Upload FY2017 Contract to EPC" (in the box titled "Documents for member libraries in Project Year 3" in the top left column of this page). Upload pdf of contract and quote to EPC, and link them to library's profile.
  4. EPC
    • Between January 10 and March 22, download or print a copy of the "Instructions for Form 471" for this project (in the box titled "Documents for libraries participating in Project Year 3" in the top left column of this page), and view the first six minutes of the video on Form 471 Certification.
    • By 11:59 pm on March 22, the filing window deadline, file Form 471 in EPC (set aside 90 minutes for this step)
      • See dates for drop-in filing assistance below.
      • Bring with you or have handy:
        • EPC username and password
        • FCC registration number
        • copy of your signed contract (pdf or hardcopy)
        • copy of your quote and any other information the vendor provided you (pdf or hardcopy)
        • estimate of any related expenses for new computers or software you expect to purchase in the next FY

Drop-in dates for assistance with filing Form 471

  • MLSC, 786 South Main St, Middletown:
    • TBA
  • And by appointment: contact Maria at 860-704-2204 or maria.bernier@ct.gov.

Waiting for funding approval

  • EPC
    • Monitor EPC account weekly for notifications, especially questions from Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewers. [Advice: Once you receive a PIA notice, immediately request a one-week extension of the timeline to respond.]
    • Respond to any requests for more information within 15 calendar days. Many answers to PIA questions are online at libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/dld/eratepia. Contact Maria Bernier for the password.
    • Wait for a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL), which will indicate whether or not USAC will fund the project. When you receive an email from USAC telling you that the FCDL is available, follow instructions in the email to view the notification and check your Funding Status and Committed Amount. If your project is funded, proceed to the next steps. If your project is denied, contact Maria Bernier immediately for assistance with contesting the decision.
  • File a Form 486 in EPC. The link is found on your Landing Page in the top right corner of the page.This is the form on which you'll indicate the status of your library's CIPA compliance.
  • Apply for grant from CT State Library to pay for portion of project costs that will not be paid by E-rate.
  • The vendor will contact you to confirm the project and seek the library's Notice to Proceed. Work begins approx. 150 days after you provide the Notice to Proceed.
  • When the vendor issues you an invoice for the work, pay it using the grant funds you received from the state library. (The vendor will get reimbursed from USAC for the discounted portion.)
  • Work prep
    • Provide any information or points of contact to allow the vendor and its subcontractors to facilitate the route prep “Make-ready” and actual cable installation.
    • Library is responsible for all communications with its patrons or other interested parties concerning the proposed construction. Notification of any person(s) affected by this construction is the responsibility of the library. Selected contractor will work directly with any persons designated to handle project communications to facilitate awareness and reduce turmoil in library operations. Selected contractor will provide consultation to assist in the development of a communications plan as required.

New Services and Construction

E-rate approval = Funding Commitment Decision Letter

  • EPC
    • File Form 486 in EPC within 120 days of receiving your Funding Commitment Decision Letter.
    • Receive notification that USAC received Form 486.

Work begins approx. 150 days after you provide the Notice to Proceed

During project

  • Provide the subcontractor with secured space to store materials and equipment if needed.
  • Provide entry/exit holes into buildings for routing cables to distribution frames unless otherwise noted.
  • With subcontractor, decide on all termination locations, whether in-building or outside. This will include all hand-hole or manhole locations.

When work is almost done

  • Provide, if desired, a person(s) to witness any final testing or construction verification. The person designated by the library will be required to initial/provide acceptance of any results. This person(s) will represent the library during any and all acceptance testing.

When job is done (theoretically by June 30, 2019)

  • Things to get from vendor
    • Any library property that was dug up should be restored to satisfactory condition
    • Any warranties associated with the fiber and any other outside plant materials
    • Route “As-Built” Maps/Diagrams
  • Retain all related documents for 10 years
    • Receipt and delivery records
    • Pre-bidding and bidding information
    • Contracts
    • Application process
    • Invoices
    • Provision of services
    • Administration of services
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map of libraries eligible for grants for fiber

CT E-rate Coordinator

Maria Bernier's picture
Maria Bernier
Contact:
Middletown Library Service Center
786 South Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
860-704-2204

E-rate Help from USAC

***To communicate with a real person about the E-rate Program, call the Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 on weekdays between 8 AM and 8 PM.***

USAC offers several different kinds of assistance and training, including an Online Learning Library, weekly News Briefs, and assistance from the Client Service Bureau by phone or email.

The Online Learning Library contains short videos and longer recorded webinars on various topics related to the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC), forms, eligible services, Category Two budgets, and discount calculations.

You can follow the File Along With Me blog or subscribe to weekly News Brief emails and read past briefs offering timely information and tips to help you through the application process.

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