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 the LBP designation process is pending review.

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.

Submit ETC Order to USAC

To receive Lifeline Program support, a carrier must submit a copy of its ETC designation order from its state utility regulator or from the FCC to USAC via email or regular mail:

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

New Incumbent ETC

A new incumbent ETC should submit its ETC order with attachments and supporting documentation to identify the new ETC service area, including wire center information.

New Competitive ETC

A new competitive ETC should submit the ETC order with attachments and supporting documentation necessary to identify the new ETC service area within the incumbent service area(s) at the wire center-level.

Relinquish an ETC or LBP Designation

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