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To participate in the High Cost Program, rural and non-rural incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive wireline and wireless telephone companies must be designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) by their state commissions or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). To receive support, an ETC must submit a copy of its ETC designation order from its state utility regulator or the FCC to USAC.
Wireline and wireless telephone companies that want to be designated as ETCs must offer the telecommunications services or functions that are designated for universal service fund support by the FCC in Section 54.101 of its rules. ETCs must also advertise the availability of the Lifeline Program.
While most ILECs are already designated as ETCs, there may be new carriers that receive ILEC status through the FCC waiver process. Competitive ETCs are designated on an ongoing basis.