Begin the Process - Step 1 - Competitive Bidding
Competitive bidding is a formal process to identify and request the products and services you need so that potential service providers can review those requests and submit bids for them.
Services provided on a month-to-month basis require an FCC Form 470 to be posted each year. However, if a multi-year contract results from a completed competitive bidding process, it is not necessary to post a new Form 470 in subsequent funding years until a new contract is required.
Applicants must wait at least 28 days from the date the Form 470 is certified before closing the competitive bidding process. Changes to the Form 470 beyond the allowable changes require applicants to wait 28 days from the date of the change before closing the competitive bidding process.
The entity filing a Form 470 can issue a RFP in addition to the Form 470. In general, an RFP is a formal bidding document that describes the project and requested services in sufficient detail so that potential bidders understand the scope, location and any other requirements. However, we USAC uses "RFP" or "RFP document" generically to refer to any bidding document that describes your project and requested services in more detail than in the fields provided on the Form 470.
E-rate Program rules do not require applicants to issue an RFP. Generally, you are not required to issue an RFP unless your state or local procurement rules or regulations require you to do so. However, if you have issued or will issue an RFP, you must upload that document in EPC.
There are additional competitive bidding requirement for leased dark fiber and self-provisioned networks.
Please note than an RFP is required in EPC if you are requesting the options for:
- Leased Dark Fiber and Leased Lit Fiber
- Self-Provisioned Networks and Services Provided over Third-Party Networks
- Network Equipment
- Maintenance & Operations
Commercially available business class Internet access services are exempt from the Form 470 posting requirement if they cost $3,600 or less annually per entity, including an one-time costs such as installation; provide bandwidth speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream; provide basic conduit access to the Internet at those required minimum speeds.
Open and Fair Competitive Bid Process
The entity filing the Form 470 must ensure that the competitive bidding process is open and fair:
- All bidders must be treated the same
- No bidder can have advance knowledge of the project information
- There are no secrets in the process - such as information shared with one bidder but not with others.
- All bidders need to know what is required of them
- With limited exceptions, service providers and potential service providers cannot give gifts to applicants
- The value of free service (price reductions, promotional offers, free products) generally must be deducted from the pre-discount cost of funding requests.
Once the competitive bidding process has closed, the entity that filed the FCC Form 470 must evaluate the bids received and select the service provider(s) that will provide the requested services as described further in the next step, Selecting Service Providers.
Funding Commitment Update 8.7.19
IMESD clients currently have FCDLs for 104 of 130 applications submitted for the 2019-20 Funding Year. Statistics show that USAC is concentrating on processing Category 1 applications and IMESD application submissions are following course with 64% Category 1 and 36% Category 2 funding commitments worth $3.5M combined.
Of the remaining 26 applications, we have responded to PIA inquiries on 25, while we have yet to receive any inquiries on 1 of the certified applications.
The future of Category 2
On July 9, 2019 the FCC released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the future of Category Two budgets for FY2020 and beyond. The FCC stated “…our experience over the past few years suggests that these budgets have resulted in a broader distribution of funding that is more equitable and more predictable for schools and libraries. We also see clear improvements in the way in which funding for internal connections has been administered in the five-year period since adoption of the category two budget approach. Therefore, we now propose to make the category two budget approach permanent and seek comment on potential modifications that could simplify the budgets, decrease the administrative burden of applying for category two services, and thereby speed the deployment of Wi-Fi in schools and libraries across the country….”
- The FCC proposes amending the rules to make permanent category two budget approach for all
- The FCC proposes and seeks comment on ways to improve the category two budget
- The FCC seeks comment on how to best transition from this five-year cycle
- While the FCC proposes to maintain the current existing budget multipliers for schools and libraries, they also want to seek comment on whether to change the per student or per-square foot budget multipliers, particularly for entities that may have participated at a lower rate or that may face higher costs for internal connections;
- The FCC seeks comment on moving from per-school or per-library budget to a per-district or per-system budget.
- The FCC seeks comment if there are additional services that they should consider to make eligible for category two funding
Comment Date: (30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Funding Commitment Update 2019-20
IMESD clients currently have FCDLs for 80 of 130 applications submitted for the 2019-20 Funding Year. Statistics show that USAC is concentrating on processing Category 1 applications and IMESD application submissions are following course with 74% Category 1 and 26% Category 2 funding commitments worth $1.7M combined.
Of the remaining 50 applications, we have responded to PIA inquiries on 29, while we have yet to receive any inquiries on 21 of the certified applications.
As the 2018-19 Funding Year is winding down and 2019-20 Funding Commitments continue to roll in for our clients, it’s time to start the process all over again for 2020-21. As you can see, E-rate truly is a year round process!
Just released - IMESD’s 2020-21 Application Process. Use this to guide you through the four basic steps of E-rate:
Competitive Bidding * Application * Funding * Reimbursement.
On the left, you will notice two black “arrows”. The top row represents some of the tasks that the Applicant (you) are responsible for and when we are to complete these tasks. The bottom row represents some of the tasks that InterMountain E-rate is responsible for.
In the lavender box at the bottom are some commonly used terms in the world of E-Rate. You can print this PDF from the list of Resources below.