Applying for ECF to Bring Internet to Unserved Areas

June 24, 2021

Attached: ECF Vendor Internet Availability Survey

Attached: ECF Vendor Internet Availability Survey Cover Email

~ Vendor Survey/Cover Letter Attached ~

One of the most incredible provisions of the new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is that schools and libraries can apply for ECF funding to pay for the construction of new networks to bring internet to the homes of students, educators and library patrons where commercial broadband internet access service is currently not available or where existing service is insufficient to participate in remote learning, known as “unserved areas”.   All new networks must be installed within one year of the funding decision.  There is no funding cap on such build-out costs, but we know that USAC will be scrutinizing the costs to ensure they are reasonable.  Although applicants are not required to conduct a formal competitive bid, they must meet the following requirements:

  1. Explain how the applicant determined that an existing fixed or mobile broadband network sufficient to support remote learning was or is not available.
  2. Provide clear evidence that the applicant sought service from existing providers serving the area prior to constructing a new network, and that such providers were unable or unwilling to provide services sufficient to meet the remote learning needs of their students, school staff, or library patrons.

To assist PA applicants with meeting the second requirement, we have developed the attached Emergency Connectivity Fund Internet Availability Survey of Vendors and sample cover letter.  We believe that the issuance of the survey to internet providers in your area, and their responses (or non-responses) will provide the clear evidence that USAC will be seeking during their review process.  If you have a different survey or process, that’s fine; please know that this exact survey is not required.  A few notes about the survey:

  • Schools (or libraries) should complete columns A-D with the addresses and bandwidth requirements.  The bandwidth requirements are what you deem to be necessary for a student to participate in simultaneous remote learning, considering how many users are in the home.
  • Vendors are required to complete the other sections, as indicated.
  • We suggest giving vendors no less than 10 business days (with a stated due date) to respond.  There isn’t enough time, unfortunately, to give vendors 30-60 days and still be able to apply by the August 13 ECF deadline.
  • Because the costs to install these facilities could be expensive, a vendor’s response to this question in row 8 is important so the school/library doesn’t have to outlay these funds and wait for reimbursement:  Is Company Willing to Seek ECF Reimbursement Directly from USAC? 
  • After the survey responses have been returned, determine which addresses you would like to include on your ECF application, and seek formal, detailed vendor quotes.  A signed contract is not required when submitting the ECF application, but you will likely want to sign a vendor contract after a funding commitment decision letter is received from USAC, guaranteeing the funding.

To take advantage of this provision, I encourage you to begin the process as soon as possible.  If you have any questions about the survey, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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