Requests for eRate discounts have fallen for the second straight year. Nearly 40,000 applicants requested a total of $3.65 billion in funding discounts in 2005, down about $600,000--or 15 percent--from last year, according to the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC).

The group, which administers the $2.25 billion-a-year program under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), attributed the decline at least in part to a new rule that prohibits schools from applying for internal connections--the wiring, routers, switches, and network file servers necessary to bring the internet

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