COVID-19 Update: USAC remains open for business—Washington, DC office closed. Learn more about USF program responses

Step 1: Become an ETC

To participate in the Lifeline Program, service providers 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 requirements.

Lifeline ETC Designation through States

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

Lifeline ETC Designation through the FCC

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

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

Submit ETC Order to USAC

To receive Lifeline Program support, a service provider must submit:

  1. A copy of its ETC designation order from its state utility regulator or from the FCC, and
  2. Attachments and supporting documentation necessary to identify the new ETC service area within the incumbent service area(s) at the wire center-level.

This information may be submitted to USAC via email (HC Orders) or regular mail:

Universal Service Administrative Co.
Attn: Customer Operations
700 12th Street, NW
Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005

Relinquish an ETC Designation

If a company no longer wishes to participate in the Lifeline Program, it must relinquish its ETC designation with the designating authority. ETCs must submit their relinquishment order to USAC via email (HC Orders).


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