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E-rate Funding for Libraries: Fiber Consortium

Federal funding for telephone and internet access

chart showing increase in libraries with fiber internet access

In February 2016, 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 program.

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 4

Documents for libraries that participated in Project Years 1 through 3

What to do and When for Libraries Getting New Fiber

What you need to do first:

  1. Talk to your board/town government and IT contact, and review the Letter of Agency to be sent to CSL.
  2. Communicate with Maria Bernier to let her know you're interested (maria.bernier@ct.gov, 860-704-2204). Sign and send in the Letter of Agency (use Word doc in box titled "Documents for member libraries" to left) by October 15, 2018.
  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 by January 15, 2019, update the library's profile and contact 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. If there's a problem with your discount rate, contact Maria Bernier ASAP.
    • 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.
  4. Wait for information from Maria Bernier about selected vendor (this info will be sent in December).

Contracting for services and filing Form 471

Contract matters (do this by the E-rate filing window deadline, March 27, 2019):

  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 FY2019 Contract to EPC" (in the box titled "Documents for member libraries in Project Year 4" 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 16 and March 27, 2019, 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 4" 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 27, 2019, 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 - bring your laptop!

  • Middletown Library Service Center, 786 South Main St, Middletown 06457
    • Thursday, January 24, 8:30-4:00
    • Wednesday, January 30, 11:00-4:00
    • Wednesday, February 20, 8:30-4:00
    • Thursday, March 7, 11:30-4:00
    • Tuesday, March 12, 11:30-4:00
  • And by appointment: contact Maria at 860-704-2204 or maria.bernier@ct.gov or schedule an appointment online

Waiting for funding approval (Funding Commitment Decision Letter)

  • EPC
    • Monitor email for notifications from USAC, especially questions from reviewers. [Advice: Once you receive a notice about reviewer questions, immediately request a one-week extension of the timeline to respond.]
    • Respond to any requests for more information within 15 calendar days. Contact Maria Bernier for help.
    • 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, 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.
  • 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. Selected contractor will work directly with any persons designated to handle project communications to facilitate awareness and reduce turmoil in library operations.

During project

  • 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.

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.

New Services

  • Once your service has started, 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.
  • Receive notification that USAC received Form 486.

When job is done (theoretically by June 30, 2020)

  • 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 Connecticut towns getting fiber as part of this project

E-rate Help Sessions 2019

Drop-in dates for assistance with filing Form 471

[2019 help sessions have all been completed. Dates for 2020 to be scheduled later.]

Bring with you or have handy:

  1. A laptop to access wifi
  2. EPC username and password
  3. copy of your signed contract (pdf)
  4. copy of your quote and any other information the vendor provided you (pdf)
  5. estimate of any related expenses for new computers or software you expect to purchase in the next FY

Annual Timeline for Libraries with Fiber

By Oct. 15, send Letter of Agency to Maria Bernier if you want a discount on monthly internet service fees (CIPA required). This step is not necessary if you want E-rate funding only for fiber maintenance.

Oct. 1 - Jan. 15: Update your library profile in EPC.

Jan 16-March 27: File E-rate Form 471 to request funding.

July: File E-rate Form 486 to indicate that your service has started this funding year.

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 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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