Funding Through the Federal E-Rate Program
Like many rural districts, CGESD sought federal funding to make their fiber connectivity a reality. The organization applied and received funds through the Federal E-Rate Program. Funding is offered through the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) Schools and Libraries — under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — which assists U.S. schools and libraries to obtain affordable internet access and telecommunications services. With help from these funds, CGESD needed a telecom provider that could not only provide 1-gigabit services, but could actually build fiber to these remote regions.
LS Networks offered that solution and began construction of a customized fiber network in 2016. As the third-largest funding recipient in the Pacific Northwest of the E-Rate Program, LS Networks services schools and districts outside the Portland and Seattle metros. In total, LS Networks supports 62 Northwest school districts, providing broadband access to approximately 290,000 students. “It was a herculean effort on part of LS Networks to build the infrastructure we needed,” said Harmon. “They really are the only one in the region offering that level of network customization. We are talking about a level of connectivity that is unprecedented for a community of that size.”