Lifeline

Step 1 Become an ETC

To participate in the Lifeline Program, carriers must be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) by their respective state regulatory commission or, in some cases, by the FCC. After receiving the designation, ETCs must meet all Lifeline program requirements.

Learn more about ETC designations and obligations via the FCC's website.

Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) Designation

Service providers that will provide only Lifeline-supported broadband service, and not Lifeline-supported voice service, are called Lifeline Broadband Providers (LBPs). LBPs are a type of ETC and must seek their designation through the FCC (see the LBP Public Notice for details). LBPs may be designated across multiple states through a streamlined application process.

The LBP designation process was approved on September 30, 2016, and service providers may now submit petitions to request LBP designation from the FCC. Petitions that qualify for streamlined designation will be granted in 60 days.

An ETC designation from a state to provide Lifeline voice service is sufficient to provide Lifeline broadband service as well. However, ETCs can still obtain an LBP designation in addition to their ETC designation.

Lifeline Voice ETC Designation through Your State

Where states designate Lifeline Voice ETCs, carriers should contact their respective state utility commission to initiate the ETC designation process.

Lifeline Voice ETC Designation through the FCC

Where states do not designate Lifeline ETCs, carriers must apply to the FCC for designation. These same rules apply to carriers intending to serve Tribal residents on Tribal Lands.

  • Tribally-owned service providers
    If a carrier is not subject to a state regulator's jurisdiction, it may petition for ETC designation directly with the FCC. Visit the FCC's Lifeline Program website for more information.
  • Other service providers
    If a carrier consults with its state utility regulator and determines that the state does not have authority to designate it as an ETC, it must seek designation through the FCC. Visit the FCC's Lifeline Program website for more information.

Relinquishing an ETC or LBP Designation

If a company no longer wishes to participate in the Lifeline Program, it must relinquish its ETC designation with the designating authority (state or federal) or its LBP designation through the FCC.