As districts start to file their Form 470’s, many are considering the strategies that will put them in the best position to receive the broadband they need at prices they can afford. With recent changes to USAC terminology and service type definitions, there are additional considerations of which anyone forming their filing strategy should be aware.
In the August 22, 2017 School and Libraries News Brief, USAC changed the definitions of some key service options on the 470. There is now a clear distinction between Category 1 broadband connectivity via fiber and and Category 1 broadband connectivity via non-fiber-based technology, including microwave or fixed wireless, copper, DSL, and Cable Modem.
What Do These Changes Mean?
The most important aspect of this change is that, beginning with Funding Year 2018 – effective August 16, 2017 – the service categories “Internet Access and Transport Bundled” and “Transport Only – No ISP Service Included” are no longer technology-neutral. Specifically, they no longer represent Category 1 connectivity delivered over a fiber connection.
These two categories should be used only for connectivity over any non-fiber connection such as:
- Fixed wireless/Microwave
If you intend to apply for a fiber connection, whether it is for Internet access or a private WAN connection, you must now use a fiber-specific service category.
In addition, there have been changes in the terminology pertaining to leased dark fiber vs. self-provisioned fiber. As in the Funding Year 16 and Funding Year 17, if you are bidding leased dark fiber or a self-provisioned fiber build, you must compare those options to a leased lit equivalent. However, the terminology for seeking these leased lit service equivalents has changed.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Districts seeking fiber-based Internet Access that file their 470’s using the outdated terminology may be denied funding. It may be advantageous for anyone that has filed with that terminology to re-file, and for those who have not yet filed to ensure that they have requested the correct service type for their needs.