As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to make key changes to the eRate--such as increasing the minimum amount the neediest applicants are required to contribute, and possibly eliminating the Form 470 used to seek competitive bids--stakeholders in the $2.25 billion-a-year federal program remain sharply divided as to what these changes should entail.

About 45 applicants, consultants, and vendors responded to the FCC's "Third Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" by the March deadline. The notice continued the agency's effort to explore ways of improving the program's application process and reducing waste,...

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