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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of November 14, 2019

Title 47Chapter ISubchapter BPart 54 → Subpart C


Title 47: Telecommunication
PART 54—UNIVERSAL SERVICE


Subpart C—Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support


Contents
§54.201   Definition of eligible telecommunications carriers, generally.
§54.202   Additional requirements for Commission designation of eligible telecommunications carriers.
§54.203   Designation of eligible telecommunications carriers for unserved areas.
§54.205   Relinquishment of universal service.
§54.207   Service areas.

§54.201   Definition of eligible telecommunications carriers, generally.

(a) Carriers eligible to receive support.

(1) Only eligible telecommunications carriers designated under this subpart shall receive universal service support distributed pursuant to subparts D and E of this part. Eligible telecommunications carriers designated under this subpart for purposes of receiving support only under subpart E of this part must provide Lifeline service directly to qualifying low-income consumers.

(2) [Reserved]

(3) This paragraph does not apply to offset or reimbursement support distributed pursuant to subpart G of this part.

(4) This paragraph does not apply to support distributed pursuant to subpart F of this part.

(b) A state commission shall upon its own motion or upon request designate a common carrier that meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section as an eligible telecommunications carrier for a service area designated by the state commission.

(c) Upon request and consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, the state commission may, in the case of an area served by a rural telephone company, and shall, in the case of all other areas, designate more than one common carrier as an eligible telecommunications carrier for a service area designated by the state commission, so long as each additional requesting carrier meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section. Before designating an additional eligible telecommunications carrier for an area served by a rural telephone company, the state commission shall find that the designation is in the public interest.

(d) A common carrier designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier under this section shall be eligible to receive universal service support in accordance with section 254 of the Act and, except as described in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, shall throughout the service area for which the designation is received:

(1) Offer the services that are supported by federal universal service support mechanisms under subpart B of this part and section 254(c) of the Act, either using its own facilities or a combination of its own facilities and resale of another carrier's services (including the services offered by another eligible telecommunications carrier); and

(2) Advertise the availability of such services and the charges therefore using media of general distribution.

(3) Exception. Price cap carriers that serve census blocks that are identified by the forward-looking cost model as low-cost, census blocks that are served by an unsubsidized competitor as defined in §54.5 meeting the requisite public interest obligations specified in §54.309, or census blocks where a subsidized competitor is receiving federal high-cost support to deploy modern networks capable of providing voice and broadband to fixed locations, are not required to comply with paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section in these specific geographic areas. Such price cap carriers remain obligated to maintain existing voice telephony service in these specific geographic areas unless and until a discontinuance is granted pursuant to §63.71 of this chapter.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term facilities means any physical components of the telecommunications network that are used in the transmission or routing of the services that are designated for support pursuant to subpart B of this part.

(f) For the purposes of this section, the term “own facilities” includes, but is not limited to, facilities obtained as unbundled network elements pursuant to part 51 of this chapter, provided that such facilities meet the definition of the term “facilities” under this subpart.

(g) A state commission shall not require a common carrier, in order to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this section, to use facilities that are located within the relevant service area, as long as the carrier uses facilities to provide the services designated for support pursuant to subpart B of this part within the service area.

(h) A state commission shall not designate a common carrier as an eligible telecommunications carrier for purposes of receiving support only under subpart E of this part unless the carrier seeking such designation has demonstrated that it is financially and technically capable of providing the supported Lifeline service in compliance with subpart E of this part.

(i) A state commission shall not designate as an eligible telecommunications carrier a telecommunications carrier that offers the services supported by federal universal service support mechanisms exclusively through the resale of another carrier's services.

(j) A state commission shall not designate a common carrier as a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier.

[62 FR 32948, June 17, 1997, as amended at 63 FR 2125, Jan. 13, 1998; 64 FR 62123, Nov. 16, 1999; 71 FR 65750, Nov. 9, 2006; 77 FR 12966, Mar. 2, 2012; 80 FR 4476, Jan. 27, 2015; 80 FR 40935, July 14, 2015; 81 FR 33089, May 24, 2016]

§54.202   Additional requirements for Commission designation of eligible telecommunications carriers.

(a) In order to be designated an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e)(6), any common carrier in its application must:

(1)(i) Certify that it will comply with the service requirements applicable to the support that it receives.

(ii) Submit a five-year plan that describes with specificity proposed improvements or upgrades to the applicant's network throughout its proposed service area. Each applicant shall estimate the area and population that will be served as a result of the improvements. Except, a common carrier seeking designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier in order to provide supported services only under subpart E of this part does not need to submit such a five-year plan.

(2) Demonstrate its ability to remain functional in emergency situations, including a demonstration that it has a reasonable amount of back-up power to ensure functionality without an external power source, is able to reroute traffic around damaged facilities, and is capable of managing traffic spikes resulting from emergency situations.

(3) Demonstrate that it will satisfy applicable consumer protection and service quality standards. A commitment by wireless applicants to comply with the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association's Consumer Code for Wireless Service will satisfy this requirement. Other commitments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

(4) For common carriers seeking designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier for purposes of receiving support only under subpart E of this part, demonstrate that it is financially and technically capable of providing the Lifeline service in compliance with subpart E of this part.

(5) For common carriers seeking designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier for purposes of receiving support only under subpart E of this part, submit information describing the terms and conditions of any voice telephony service plans offered to Lifeline subscribers, including details on the number of minutes provided as part of the plan, additional charges, if any, for toll calls, and rates for each such plan. To the extent the eligible telecommunications carrier offers plans to Lifeline subscribers that are generally available to the public, it may provide summary information regarding such plans, such as a link to a public Web site outlining the terms and conditions of such plans.

(6) For common carriers seeking designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier for purposes of receiving support only under subpart E of this part, submit information describing the terms and conditions of any broadband Internet access service plans offered to Lifeline subscribers, including details on the speeds offered, data usage allotments, additional charges for particular uses, if any, and rates for each such plan. To the extent the eligible telecommunications carrier offers plans to Lifeline subscribers that are generally available to the public, it may provide summary information regarding such plans, such as a link to a public Web site outlining the terms and conditions of such plans.

(b) Public interest standard. Prior to designating an eligible telecommunications carrier pursuant to section 214(e)(6), the Commission determines that such designation is in the public interest.

(c) A common carrier seeking designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e)(6) for any part of Tribal lands shall provide a copy of its petition to the affected tribal government and tribal regulatory authority, as applicable, at the time it files its petition with the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, the Commission shall send any public notice seeking comment on any petition for designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier on Tribal lands, at the time it is released, to the affected tribal government and tribal regulatory authority, as applicable, by the most expeditious means available.

(d) A common carrier seeking designation as a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier must meet the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section. The Commission shall process such petitions for designation as follows:

(1) If the petitioning common carrier has offered broadband Internet access service to the public for at least two years before the date of the filing and serves at least 1,000 non-Lifeline customers with voice telephony and/or broadband Internet access service as of the date of the filing, the common carrier's petition for designation as a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier shall be deemed granted within 60 days of the submission of a completed filing unless the Commission notifies the common carrier that the grant will not be automatically effective.

(2) If the petitioning common carrier provides service on Tribal lands and is a facilities-based provider more than 50 percent owned by one or more federally recognized Tribal Nations or Tribal consortia and actually controlled by one or more federally recognized Tribal Nations or Tribal consortia, the common carrier's petition for designation as a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier shall be deemed granted within 60 days of the submission of a completed filing unless the Commission notifies the common carrier that the grant will not be automatically effective.

(3) If the petitioning common carrier does not qualify under paragraph (d)(1) or (2) of this section, the common carrier's petition for designation as a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier shall be acted upon within six months of the submission of a completed filing.

(e) A provider designated as a Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) may obtain designation as an LBP in additional service areas by submitting to the Commission a request identifying the service areas in which the LBP plans to offer Lifeline-supported service and a certification that there has been no material change to the information submitted in the petition for which the LBP received designation as an LBP. Such a request shall be deemed granted five business days after it is submitted to the Commission, unless the Commission notifies the applicant that the grant will not be automatically effective.

[77 FR 12966, Mar. 2, 2012, as amended at 81 FR 33089, May 24, 2016]

§54.203   Designation of eligible telecommunications carriers for unserved areas.

(a) If no common carrier will provide the services that are supported by federal universal service support mechanisms under section 254(c) of the Act and subpart B of this part to an unserved community or any portion thereof that requests such service, the Commission, with respect to interstate services, or a state commission, with respect to intrastate services, shall determine which common carrier or carriers are best able to provide such service to the requesting unserved community or portion thereof and shall order such carrier or carriers to provide such service for that unserved community or portion thereof.

(b) Any carrier or carriers ordered to provide such service under this section shall meet the requirements of section 54.201(d) and shall be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier for that community or portion thereof.

§54.205   Relinquishment of universal service.

(a) A state commission shall permit an eligible telecommunications carrier to relinquish its designation as such a carrier in any area served by more than one eligible telecommunications carrier. An eligible telecommunications carrier that seeks to relinquish its eligible telecommunications carrier designation for an area served by more than one eligible telecommunications carrier shall give advance notice to the state commission of such relinquishment.

(b) Prior to permitting a telecommunications carrier designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier to cease providing universal service in an area served by more than one eligible telecommunications carrier, the state commission shall require the remaining eligible telecommunications carrier or carriers to ensure that all customers served by the relinquishing carrier will continue to be served, and shall require sufficient notice to permit the purchase or construction of adequate facilities by any remaining eligible telecommunications carrier. The state commission shall establish a time, not to exceed one year after the state commission approves such relinquishment under this section, within which such purchase or construction shall be completed.

(c) In the case of a Lifeline Broadband Provider eligible telecommunications carrier, a Lifeline Broadband Provider's notice of relinquishment shall be deemed granted by the Commission 60 days after the notice is filed, unless the Commission notifies the Lifeline Broadband Provider that the relinquishment will not be automatically effective. This paragraph (c) shall not apply to Lifeline Broadband Providers that also receive high-cost universal service support.

[81 FR 33089, May 24, 2016]

§54.207   Service areas.

(a) The term service area means 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 the carrier shall receive support from federal universal service support mechanisms.

(b) In the case of a service area served by a rural telephone company, service area means such company's “study area” unless and until the Commission and the states, after taking into account recommendations of a Federal-State Joint Board instituted under section 410(c) of the Act, establish a different definition of service area for such company.

(c) If a state commission proposes to define a service area served by a rural telephone company to be other than such company's study area, the Commission will consider that proposed definition in accordance with the procedures set forth in this paragraph.

(1) A state commission or other party seeking the Commission's agreement in redefining a service area served by a rural telephone company shall submit a petition to the Commission. The petition shall contain:

(i) The definition proposed by the state commission; and

(ii) The state commission's ruling or other official statement presenting the state commission's reasons for adopting its proposed definition, including an analysis that takes into account the recommendations of any Federal-State Joint Board convened to provide recommendations with respect to the definition of a service area served by a rural telephone company.

(2) The Commission shall issue a Public Notice of any such petition within fourteen (14) days of its receipt.

(3) The Commission may initiate a proceeding to consider the petition within ninety (90) days of the release date of the Public Notice.

(i) If the Commission initiates a proceeding to consider the petition, the proposed definition shall not take effect until both the state commission and the Commission agree upon the definition of a rural service area, in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section and section 214(e)(5) of the Act.

(ii) If the Commission does not act on the petition within ninety (90) days of the release date of the Public Notice, the definition proposed by the state commission will be deemed approved by the Commission and shall take effect in accordance with state procedures.

(d) The Commission may, on its own motion, initiate a proceeding to consider a definition of a service area served by a rural telephone company that is different from that company's study area. If it proposes such different definition, the Commission shall seek the agreement of the state commission according to this paragraph.

(1) The Commission shall submit a petition to the state commission according to that state commission's procedures. The petition submitted to the relevant state commission shall contain:

(i) The definition proposed by the Commission; and

(ii) The Commission's decision presenting its reasons for adopting the proposed definition, including an analysis that takes into account the recommendations of any Federal-State Joint Board convened to provide recommendations with respect to the definition of a service area served by a rural telephone company.

(2) The Commission's proposed definition shall not take effect until both the state commission and the Commission agree upon the definition of a rural service area, in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section and section 214(e)(5) of the Act.

(e) The Commission delegates its authority under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section to the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau.

[62 FR 32948, June 17, 1997, as amended at 67 FR 13226, Mar. 21, 2002]

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