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New Forms, New Data to Collect

Item 8 in Block 4 of the new Form 471 contains multiple questions regarding the network capacity and broadband connectivity speeds of applicants. Some of the questions are subjective inquiries about the ability of the network to meet the school or library’s instructional or educational needs, and others center on the connectivity speed targets laid out in President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.

Some applicants may already know the information that the FCC is seeking. Your specific situation may not involve a wide-area network, so answering the WAN questions will be simple. Or you may have a WAN with 150 connected sites and circuits with different speeds, in which case you may need to do some digging to give an accurate answer. Still, other applicants may not have any of the technical information right at hand, and will have to seek out others to gather the data.

Regardless of your situation, you don’t want this new section to hold up an otherwise complete application – especially if you’re staring down an approaching deadline. Start gathering this info now, even if you haven’t selected your vendors yet. By the time you’re ready to fill out the 471, you will be a few keystrokes away from putting this new section behind you.

The data that the FCC is collecting in this item shouldn’t have an effect on whether you receive a funding commitment, but it’s apparent that the FCC wants a clearer picture of the Internet connectivity and capacity of E-rate applicants. This information should help guide FCC policy decisions for the E-rate program in the years to come as they evaluate the effectiveness of the recent program changes and address future needs.

Here’s a look at what you will need to know to complete this part of the form:

  • Internet speed per 1,000 users (schools)
  • Number of branches serving a population over/under 50,000, and the Internet speed at each branch (libraries)
  • Number of sites with WAN connections scalable to 10 Gbps
  • Number of sites with LAN capacity to support educational or library activities at the following levels
    • Completely sufficient
    • Mostly sufficient
    • Sometimes sufficient
    • Rarely sufficient
    • Not sufficient
  • Checklist of reasons why sites may not have sufficient LAN capacity:
    • Equipment too costly
    • Installation too costly
    • Broadband connection speed to building is too slow
    • Inadequate local area network (LAN) services/internal networks and wiring
    • Outdated equipment
    • Lack of training and technical support
    • Inconsistent service/frequent outages and down time
    • Physical structure or layout of building(s)
    • Other:                                  
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