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States have the primary responsibility for designating carriers as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs). The High Cost Program works with state utility regulators to determine ETC status and ETC service areas to ensure that carrier certifications are received on time and to respond to questions from state regulatory staff members.
State regulatory commissions are the regulatory bodies that, under the laws of a state, have regulatory jurisdiction over the intrastate operations of telecommunications carriers. These regulatory bodies define the service areas of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive LECs.
A service area is a geographic area established by a state commission for the purpose of determining universal service obligations and support mechanisms. A service area defines the overall area for which a carrier shall receive support from federal universal service support programs. In the case of a service area served by incumbent telephone companies, service area means the company's "study area".