7 questions for K-12 leaders to ask about private lit fiber

by Dennis Pierce

With the recent change in E-rate rules, providers of private lit fiber networks have begun targeting school districts with their solutions. These networks typically offer point-to-point connections with dedicated fiber-optic lines that don’t route through a shared network infrastructure.

While these networks offer a number of possible benefits, there are many considerations that K-12 leaders should be aware of as well.

A new white paper from AT&T compares private lit fiber with switched or dedicated Ethernet services. According to the white paper, there are seven key questions that K-12 leaders should ask as they evaluate whether private lit fiber networks are right for their schools:

1. How quickly will you be able to add new locations to support new schools?

Laying new fiber can take an extended period of time, the white paper notes. It’s important to make sure you understand the time involved and whether it fits in with your plans for new school expansion.

2. If any fiber needs to be moved, what impact will that have on your network availability?

Will you be able to recover fiber capital outlays if a building is closed or moved to a new location?

3. What type of network redundancy will you have if the fiber connecting to your school district’s data center is cut?

How will you reroute traffic in the case of failure? How significant would be the impact to learning if your network were down for an extended period?


4. Does your private lit fiber agreement include maintenance on the lines?

5. Who will bear the risk and costs associated with network relocations and/or disaster recovery?

6. Do you have the plans and budget in place to address network redundancy, since this is not funded through E-rate?

7. How long are you willing to commit to a particular technology?

Private lit fiber networks typically require a long-term lease that can last up to 20 years. Are you comfortable with that kind of arrangement—or would you prefer to have the flexibility to embrace future innovation?

To learn about how private lit fiber compares with switched or dedicated Ethernet services, download the full white paper here