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E-rate Funding for Libraries: Fiber FAQs

Federal funding for telephone and internet access


What is it?

We want to connect your library to the network via fiber instead of DSL. This means faster internet and data speeds for your staff and patrons. The state library has received bond funding from the State of Connecticut to help pay for these new connections. We are also asking libraries to apply for E-rate funding to help pay for the project.

Why now?

CEN plans to discontinue its free DSL service by July 2017, so you’ll have to decide your best course of action for internet access going forward. If you choose to install a new fiber connection to CEN now, then you’ll have faster service plus annual and monthly fees starting sometime in fall 2017 for Year 1 participants and winter/spring 2018 for Year 2 participants. If you decide instead to contract with a commercial internet service, such as Frontier or Comcast, you’ll pay fees to them.

What does it cost?

The cost of the new fiber connection and network equipment will be covered by a combination of E-rate funds (a federal source) and state bond funds (via a grant from the state library), both of which you'll need to request by filling out forms. Your library will be responsible for paying annual and monthly fees to the fiber vendor. If you want, you can also apply for an E-rate discount on both of those fees, though you would need to be CIPA compliant and filter in order to get the discount on the monthly fees. If you pay your monthly costs from your own budget, you do not have to be CIPA compliant.

What am I committing to?

  • Signing the LOA does not commit you to anything. It just indicates interest in learning more.
  • Signing a contract with the vendor does not commit you to anything either, as the contract states that it's all contingent on funding being available from E-rate and the state bonds.
  • Filing an E-rate Form 471 does not commit you to anything. It means you're asking the E-rate program to help pay for part of the project if you decide to continue.
  • You're not committed to anything until you give the vendor the OK to proceed, which they'll request from you in writing.

When would the work happen?

Most likely sometime in spring/summer/fall 2017 for Year 1 participants, winter/spring 2018 for Year 2 participants, and winter/spring 2019 for Year 3 participants.

What do I have to do to participate?

  • Sign and submit a Letter of Agency to Ken Wiggin.
  • Wait until the Year 3 vendor(s) is selected in January 2018.
  • Read the quote and draft contract that the vendor sends you.
  • Sign a contract with the vendor for this work.
  • File a Form 471 to request E-rate funding to cover part of the cost.
  • Submit a short grant application to the state library to request funding to cover the rest of the cost for special construction and network equipment, and file a final grant report when the project is done.
  • Give the vendor permission to proceed with the project, and pay their invoice using the grant funds from the state library.
  • File a Form 486 to confirm with E-rate that your project has begun. This form also allows the vendor to get reimbursed directly by E-rate.

How do I learn more?

More Answers

I need help with my Form 471!

Download the Word doc titled "Instructions for Form 471" at the top of this box, and/or contact Maria Bernier at or 860-704-2204.

Why do I have to do this Form 471 anyway???

The Form 471 is an application for funding from the federal E-rate program. If you receive E-rate funding to help pay for part of the project, usually between 40% and 80%, then we can stretch the state bond funds farther to cover more costs and more libraries.

Will they be digging up my property?

No, the fiber will be strung up in the air on telephone poles, usually not dug in the ground through trenches.

How do I get a contract?

Contact the vendor that emailed your quote. They will send you a link to an online Docusign page where you will sign the contract. The system will then email you a link to download a copy of the signed contract.

Do I have to filter?

NO. If you ARE willing to filter and be CIPA compliant, then everything listed on your quote from the vendor can be discounted through E-rate. If you choose NOT to filter, then only the dark fiber IRU and annual fee can be discounted. In this latter case, your library will have to pay for the full price of the monthly internet service, and the state bond funds will cover the cost of the network equipment.

One-hour webinar: “CIPA and E-rate: How to get free money for your Wifi Network and Internet Access,” with Maria Bernier from CSL and Scott Taylor from CEN. View the recording or read through the slides.

An April 2013 article in American Libraries provides helpful guidance on filtering and CIPA: "Filtering and the First Amendment," by Deborah Caldwell-Stone.

We're planning to build a new library soon. Should I install fiber now to the old building or wait for the new building?

It depends on the timetable of your construction project. Contact Maria Bernier to discuss your options: or 860-704-2204.

CT E-rate Coordinator

Maria Bernier's picture
Maria Bernier
Middletown Library Service Center
786 South Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457

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