K12 Broadband Network FAQs

FAQ Index

    Questions

    What is the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network?

    The Illinois K-12 Broadband Network will provide secure Internet and broadband connectivity at no charge to Illinois Public K-12 schools that join the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Consortium. The consortium will receive funding from the Universal Service Schools and Libraries program (otherwise known as E-rate) in addition to state appropriation. It is this combination of E-rate funding and state appropriation that allows the DoIT consortium to provide Internet and broadband connectivity at no charge to public K-12 schools.

    Membership to the DoIT consortium is available to any Illinois E-rate eligible entity. If the entity is not a public K-12 school, for example a private K-12 school or a library, then the consortium will charge the entity the portion of costs not covered by E-rate in addition to a consortium member charge.

    Further detail on the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network is available via the K-12 Broadband Network Webinar and accompanying slides at the following link under Resources:

    https://www2.illinois.gov/icn/projects/k12network/Pages/default.aspx

    What services are provided by the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network?

    DoIT will procure security services, Internet, Last Mile connectivity and Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity for consortium members. These services and connectivity are provided at no charge for public K-12. For private K-12 and libraries, there will be a charge based on the E-rate discount applicable to the private K-12 or library in addition to a consortium member charge. This charge will be communicated in the December 2019 timeframe when DoIT has received responses to its solicitation.  

    What is the definition of a Last Mile circuit and a WAN circuit?

    A Last Mile circuit is the connection from a school head end site to a consortium point of presence (POP) providing connectivity to the public Internet. The school head end site is the site that receives Internet.

    A Wide Area Network (WAN) circuit is a connection from a remote site, for example, the school middle school to the school head end site. This is typically a logical connection and enabled by a service provider. 

    Are there eligibility requirements?

    To benefit from the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network the entity must be E-rate eligible, comply with E-rate rules and certifications and be a member of the DoIT consortium. Membership to the consortium is open to any Illinois E-rate eligible entity. To join the consortium, the entity should sign then scan/email the K-12 or Library Letter of Agency, located under Forms at the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network website https://www2.illinois.gov/icn/projects/k12network/Pages/default.aspx

    You should also note the letter of agency instructions at the same location.

    If you have circuits with service providers that have a contract term end date of June 30th 2021 or later, then DoIT will not be procuring a circuit in this years solicitation. If the contract end date is prior to June 30th 2022, the circuit will be eligible for next years solicitation.

    In other words, the circuit must have a contract term end date of prior to 30th June 2021 to be eligible for inclusion in this years solicitation. Please note that this does not apply regarding contracts with Illinois Century Network (ICN).

    This circuit eligibility requirement is on a per circuit basis. For example, if a school has 2 circuits under contract to 30 June 2021, and one circuit under contract to 30 June 2020, the one circuit under contract to 30 June 2020 can be included in this years solicitation. And next year, the other two circuits can be included in the solicitation.

    I am under contract with ICN. What happens?

    ICN will be amending contracts to support the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network for E-rate eligible entities that are consortium members. Please note that for entities that are not public K-12, the out of pocket cost will not increase. For public K-12, ICN bandwidth will be provided at no charge.

    How do I check if my school district will receive Internet and Broadband connectivity at no charge?

    First, go to the K-12 Broadband Network Website at https://www2.illinois.gov/icn/projects/k12network/Pages/default.aspx

    then click on the link under Resources "ISBE Directory of Educational Entities"

    This takes you to an Illinois State Board of Education website. At the website click on "Directory of Educational Entities" then click the link "Directory of Education Entities – Current", which is an Excel spreadsheet. Open the spreadsheet and go to the second tab called "Public Dist and Sch". If your school/school district is listed in this tab, then your school/school district is eligible for the secure Internet and broadband connectivity at no charge.

     

    Why is the state providing state appropriation to cover the costs not covered by the E-rate program?

    We believe establishing a consortium to purchase Internet and circuits is more cost effective and efficient than each school district separately purchasing their own circuits. We believe that for Illinois as a whole, cost savings will accrue due to this consortium approach.

    We also want to ensure public K-12 have as much Internet and broadband access as required, with no restrictions on the quantity of Internet or broadband connectivity available.

    Will the consortium be taking care of all my E-rate administration. Can I cease to do E-rate filings?

    Especially in this first year of the consortium, we strongly recommend you continue filing for E-rate as you would do if the consortium did not exist. This will allow you in the December 2019 timeframe to choose if you want to follow the consortium path or file your own E-rate funding requests.

    Some reasons you may need to file your own funding requested include: (i) the consortium not receiving a response for your circuits, (ii) the contract between DoIT and the awarded service provider not being negotiated in time for the E-rate funding window close date, (iii) for private K-12 and libraries, receiving a more cost effective response to your E-rate Form 470 than received by the DoIT consortium.

    What will happen to this program in future?

    The current administration has emphasized the importance of broadband for K-12, for unserved and underserved households, and for farm communities. This is evidenced by the Connect Illinois plan (https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/ConnectIllinois/Pages/default.aspx), that includes a $400M grant program to bring broadband to unserved and underserved households and $20M capital to upgrade the Illinois Century Network. There is commitment by the current administration to the K-12 Broadband Network.

    If I join the consortium am I locked into the consortium?

    Joining the consortium at this stage provides you additional options. Actions of the consortium do not prevent you from issuing your own E-rate form 470's and procurements. In fact, we strongly recommend that you continue to file your E-rate paperwork and issue procurements as you would do had the consortium not existed. In the December 2019 timeframe, the consortium will provide information to allow you to choose the path. Whether to go with the consortium or continue with your own path.

    When the consortium procures Last Mile and WAN circuits from a service provider, who is the customer of the service provider? The consortium or the school?

    DoIT consortium will be the customer of record for Last Mile and WAN circuits procured from service providers. For public K-12, DoIT consortium will make the circuits available at no charge. For non-public K-12 and libraries DoIT consortium will recover the cost not covered by the E-rate program from the non-public K-12 entity/library.

    My school district is a private K-12 school district/library. How does this initiative help my school district/ library?

    Private K-12 and libraries can join the DoIT Consortium. The consortium will procure Internet, last mile and WAN circuits on behalf of the private K-12/library and will charge back the private K-12/library the non-discounted amount per the discount rate of the private K-12/library. There will be an agreement executed between the consortium and the private K-12/library covering these charges. .

    My school district/library has all circuits under contract until 30 June 2022. Can I pay an early termination fee to be released from the contracts, and then have the Internet and all circuits provided by the consortium?

    No. DoIT, from E-rate data, already know which circuits are under contract and the contract end date. It is not cost effective for the state to pay early termination fees, and the consortium to then pay for service. Thus, circuits under contract are required to complete their term before being included in the consortium solicitation. Circuits with a contract term end date of prior to 30 June 2021 can be included in this years solicitation

    I work at a library, and it is our policy not to do content filtering. Thus we have never applied for E-rate subsidy, and we don't intend to apply. Can I join the consortium?

    No. Only E-rate eligible entities, and those entities willing to comply with E-rate rules (for example, content filtering) can join the consortium.

    Will Illinois Century Network be responding to E-rate form 470's?

    No. On July 1st 2020 Illinois Century Network will cease to be an E-rate service provider. Thus, ICN will not be responding to E-rate form 470's issued for E-rate funding year 2020 – i.e. released by E-rate applicants from July 1st 2019 to February 2020.

    How will I know if my district needs to apply for Special Construction state match funds?

    The circuits in the DoIT consortium solicitation that have a special construction component are expected to be known early February 2020. Affected schools will then be contacted by the consortium.  Only public school districts are eligible to apply for the Fiscal Year 2020 E-rate State Matching Grant Program administered by the Illinois State Board of Education.  The consortium is not eligible to apply for a special construction project through the Illinois State Board of Education program.  The list of circuits included in the DoIT Consortium solicitation can be found at the K-12 website, under Resources at the link "DoIT Consortium Circuits Solicited."

    Will the DoIT consortium award Special Construction state match funds?

    No. The Fiscal Year 2020 E-rate State Matching Grant Program is administered by Illinois State Board of Education.

    Where do I go to submit the Special Construction state match application?

    For information on the state match application process, please refer to the following link, under "E-rate State Matching Grant"

    https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Broadband-Information.aspx

    ISBE contact for the State Matching Grant Program is broadband@isbe.net

    When is the Special Construction state match application due?

    For information on the state match application process, please refer to the following link, under "E-rate State Matching Grant"

    https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Broadband-Information.aspx

    ISBE contact for the State Matching Grant Program is broadband@isbe.net

    How will I know who has been awarded for my district's circuits included in the consortium circuit solicitation?

    This information will be communicated by the consortium to the school districts via email and also posted on the Illinois K-12 Broadband Network website at https://www2.illinois.gov/icn/projects/k12network/Pages/default.aspx

    How will I know the contract terms

    Once the DoIT consortium E-rate solicitations have been published the consortium will be emailing a DoIT Consortium Member Service Agreement and Service Order for signature by the consortium member. For public K-12 school districts, the Internet, broadband and security services will be provided at no charge.

    Where can I get help to complete the Special Construction state match application?

    Please contact Melinda Fiscus, Digital Access Coordinator at the Learning Technology Center of Illinois. Melinda's contact details:

    Email: mfiscus@ltcillinois.gov   Telephone: 618 544 2719

    Also The Learning Technology Center of Illinois offers e-rate support with information at https://ltcillinois.org/access/erate/

    Can my E-rate consultant apply for Special Construction state match on my behalf?

    No. The school district needs to apply directly for the state match grant.

    For information on the state match application process, please refer to the following link, under "E-rate State Matching Grant"

    https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Broadband-Information.aspx

    ISBE contact for the State Matching Grant Program is broadband@isbe.net