Fatbeam wins 11 new E-Rate contracts, builds 200 fiber miles to address wireless backhaul needs

Clark Fork Jr./Sr. High School, part of the Lake Pend Oreille School District, for which Fatbeam will build out broadband under the E-Rate program. (Source: LPOSD / Vimeo)

Fatbeam has won 11 new E-Rate service contracts in four states, enabling the competitive provider to build out fiber infrastructure to not just school districts but also additional fiber for local businesses that need higher bandwidth services.

For this latest build, Fatbeam will provide a series of lit and dark fiber services to school districts in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

For example, Sandpoint, Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille School District has tasked Fatbeam with building a 49-mile fiber network that will deliver 2 Gbps lit services to the school district and its 13 facilities, for example. Like other school districts that are saddled with tight budgets, the school district found that the FCC’s E-Rate program, which finances connectivity for schools and libraries, offered a cost effective solution.

Fatbeam has gained the attention FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who highlighted the provider during a hearing on the 2015 E-Rate Season for initiating the federal program to “deploy and provide smaller markets with competitive options.”

While the initial focus of the contracts and fiber builds are to address schools, the service provider is keen on pursuing other local business and wholesale carrier opportunities, including wireless backhaul deals with major wireless operators. The service provider said it will simultaneously build over 200 miles of fiber to “modernize wireless infrastructure” in these four states, but did not reveal what carriers would benefit from the upgrade.  

Fatbeam’ is also benefitting from changes the FCC made for schools that want to purchase dark fiber services. Under the FCC's E-Rate order that was issued in 2015, the regulator amended the eligible services list to support the equal treatment of lit and dark fiber services. Local school districts will now be able to purchase either kind of service depending on their specific needs via an FCC Form 470 application.

Greg Green, president of Fatbeam, told FierceTelecom in a previous interview that dark fiber adoption by schools in its serving area rose 63 percent over the past year. School districts are installing the optical equipment themselves to take advantage of the dark fiber connection, or they are working with a third-party installer.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Fatbeam's EMAN acquisition ups Washington State fiber presence
Fatbeam brings 2 Gbps fiber network to Butte, Mont., school district
Fatbeam says 63 percent of its E-Rate customers are using dark fiber