A new online tool created by the agency that administers the eRate can be used to find out which service providers in a given state might be engaging in questionable practices, some eRate consultants say—thereby warning applicants either to steer clear from these providers or ask tough questions before signing any contracts.

The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co., the agency that created the tool—which some applicants and consultants are calling the "single biggest advancement" to the eRate program in years—does not officially endorse this practice. On the other


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