To participate in the High Cost Program, telecommunications carriers must be designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) by their state regulatory commissions or, in some cases, by the FCC. After being delegated, ETCs must meet all program requirements.
States have the primary responsibility for designating carriers within their jurisdiction as ETCs. However, in cases where a carrier is not subject to a state's jurisdiction, it must apply to the FCC for ETC designation.
States have primary responsibility for designating carriers as ETCs. Carriers should contact their state utility regulator to determine how to initiate the ETC designation process in their state.
In some instances, a carrier on non-Tribal lands is not under any state's jurisdiction. In this case, the carrier must then apply to the FCC for ETC designation. Likewise, carriers on Tribal lands are not under state jurisdiction and must also apply directly to the FCC for ETC designation. Read below for specific directions on applying to the FCC:
In some cases, the FCC has jurisdiction to designate ETCs. When a carrier files a petition directly with the FCC, it must provide copies of its petition to the affected state utility regulator at the same time. The FCC will release a public notice establishing a pleading cycle for comments on the petition. Based on the evidence in the record, the FCC will first make a jurisdictional determination. If the FCC determines that the state regulator lacks jurisdiction, it will decide the merits of the request within six months of the jurisdictional decision. If the company fails to meet its burden of proof that it is not subject to the state regulator's jurisdiction, the FCC will dismiss the request and direct the company to seek ETC designation from its state utility regulator.
An ETC that is designated by the FCC must (Report and Order FCC 05-46):
State commissions are encouraged to adopt similar requirements of state designed ETCs. See Section C of the FCC's rules for more information on ETC designation by the FCC.