If securing sufficient bandwidth to support your district’s needs is a top priority, FirstLight has the solution.

ipad-907577_1920The concepts of school, education resources, teacher and student relationships are changing rapidly.  Learning is not just taking place within the confines of the physical building – but across web-based services, applications,  video links, and over all kinds of connected devices. This provides students with the opportunity of global learning.

High-capacity bandwidth that can scale with the evolving education system is critical and something that schools need to invest in now.  But knowing what type of network you need to ensure a future proofed environment is challenging. Dark Fiber offers an interesting answer for schools who may have no way of gauging future bandwidth requirements, but having the technical capability and the financial resources to implement can be out of many district’s reach.  To that end, the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Modernization Order attempted to simplify the E-rate program to increase access to the necessary funding for networks in schools.

From here, the ConnectED initiative started to address the issue of actual broadband capacity.  In response, Service Providers have now made dark fiber more widely available and more affordable. School districts considering dark fiber as an option for their WAN and Internet access receive many benefits, but not all providers of this service are the same. Depending on the terms offered by fiber providers, schools can be held responsible for maintenance and support of their networks, which can be expensive and difficult to manage.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 5.31.15 PMSo, what are some the dark fiber benefits?

A dark fiber network offers virtually unlimited bandwidth – the bandwidth is only limited by the type of electronics the district installs to ‘light’ the fiber. By implementing a dark fiber network, the school district has predictable costs as the bandwidth needs grow over time. Also, dark fiber networks can support all types of applications so school districts can consolidate their communications platform onto a single network to streamline management and operations.

How can e-Rate help?

Through the e-Rate program, “dark fiber is eligible as long as applicants light the fiber immediately.” When it comes to dark fiber installation costs, the e-Rate program notes that “the eligible entity’s property line, maintenance and special construction costs to connect the fiber to the eligible entity’s facilities are eligible.

What else is eligible or not:

  • Monthly charges and maintenance provided as a component of leased dark fiber to maintain reliable operation
  • Re-routing of fiber is considered construction, not maintenance.
  • If other customers are served by the leased dark fiber, only the pro rata costs of maintenance incurred by the eligible entity will be eligible for E-rate support.
  • The purchase and ownership of modulating electronics associated with lighting dark fiber and modulating electronics on applicant-leased dark fiber leaving the eligible entity’s premises are not eligible.

The FCC understands the benefit that a dark fiber network can have for school districts and as such has made strides to equalize the treatment of lit and dark fiber under the E-Rate program. FirstLight’s expertise at designing, building and monitoring dark fiber networks is and added benefit to an already exciting program for education. As bandwidth demands rise in schools, the network you have to support your district’s learning initiatives will be your most valuable resource and working with a service provider with a complete set of communications services is critical.

Want to learn more about how FirstLight can help? Contact us today