One of the barriers to entry for the E-rate program is the difficulty in understanding the technical terminology required to file for data services. Complicating this further is the fact that USAC uses certain terms on their Forms and in their guidance materials that are not commonly used in the Information Technology or Telecommunications industries at large. Here are our top five tips for navigating the terminology and filing quality applications. For more detailed information, please refer to our terminology guidance in our upgrade toolkit.
1. Understand the difference between a bundled Internet access connection and ISP Services Only. A bundled Internet access connection is when the provider provides both Internet bandwidth and the physical transport circuit (which could be leased lit fiber, cable modem, DSL, etc) over which the Internet access is delivered and bills it as one monthly cost. ISP services only, also referred to as Internet port service, is simply Internet bandwidth with no physical transport circuit included. ISP Services Only is typically used with state/regional networks or by large districts utilizing carrier hotels for their datacenters.
2. Many vendors use brand names for their various data transmission offering. For example, AT&T’s “GigaMAN,” is a fiber optic-based Metro-Ethernet WAN service. Once you have selected your winning vendor, work with them to clarify the type of service you are receiving.
3. Leased Lit Fiber (with or without Internet Access) can refer to two distinct services.
- Leased Lit Fiber with Internet Access is an Internet access connection delivered over leased lit fiber transport
- Leased Lit Fiber without Internet Access is a private transport circuit between two customer sites, a point to point circuit, or any type of wide area network service delivered over leased lit fiber that does not include Internet access as part of the cost. For either of these services, on the FCC Form 470 you will select “Leased Lit Fiber (with or without Internet Access)” and then describe the specifics of the service you seek via the 470 narrative and/or your Request for Proposal.
4. Form 471 requires more detail than the Form 470. The service requests on Form 470 are vaguer and only refer to the physical connection type, whether it’s for Internet access or transport between private facilities, and the speed required. It does not provide you options to request a specific type of network service such as MPLS or Metro-Ethernet. However, you will also need to know the specific service type in order to complete the Form 471.
5. Form 471 provides options for many antiquated and obsolete technologies. Services such as frame relay, ATM, and switched multimegabit data services are seldom, if ever, used today. Avoid selecting them on Form 471 unless you are absolutely sure you have them (and if you do have them, schedule a call with us to discuss upgrading).
For a full list of the technical terminology required to file Forms 470 or 471, visit our E-rate terminology glossary.