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Step 2 Eligibility

A wireline or wireless telecommunications company seeking reimbursement from the Lifeline Program must be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) by its state commission or in some cases by the FCC.

In addition, all ETCs providing Lifeline Program-supported services must ensure that their consumers are eligible for the discount based on the applicable state or federal requirements.

Become an ETC

States have the primary responsibility for ETC designation but in some cases, the FCC has jurisdiction to designate ETCs. Three scenarios typically apply:

1. State ETC Designation

States have primary responsibility for designating telecommunications providers as ETCs. Carriers should contact their state utility regulator to determine how to initiate the ETC designation process. The procedures differ for carriers seeking designation on non-Tribal lands and carriers seeking designation on Tribal lands.

2. ETC Designation on Non-Tribal Lands

A carrier seeking ETC designation on non-Tribal lands must first consult with its state utility regulator to see if the state utility regulator has ETC jurisdiction and procedures in place for seeking ETC status. If not, the carrier may petition the FCC and must provide an affirmative statement from the state utility regulator to that effect. The petition must reference "CC Docket 96-45." The FCC will resolve all designation requests for non-Tribal lands within six months of the date filed.

3. ETC Designation Tribal Lands

A carrier seeking ETC designation on Tribal lands may directly petition the FCC for designation without first seeking designation from its state utility regulator. The carrier must explain its assertion that it is not subject to the state regulator's jurisdiction and bears the burden of proving that assertion. To make its case, a carrier should provide fact-specific support and relevant case law, statutes, and treaties. The FCC will consider informative any statements and analyses the Tribal authority might provide regarding the carrier's request for designation and the state regulator's exercise of jurisdiction.

Learn more about filing a petition directly with the FCC.