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NJ BPU APPROVES TWO TELECOMMUNICATION CARRIERS FOR ETC STATUS
On May 19, 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities authorized Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) status for Xchange Telecom, LLC and for Q Link Wireless LLC to offer federal Lifeline service in the state. These ETC designations are among the first in several years in New Jersey after limitations of such issuances under the previous administration. Two Board Commissioners highlighted the positive assistance that the Lifeline program and designated ETCs provide to consumers.
Lifeline provides federal payment support for telephone service and broadband service to eligible end users. Consumers eligible for Lifeline are individuals at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size, or those consumers that receive benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps); Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Federal Public Housing Assistance; or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit. There are additional ways to show eligibility for consumers that live on Tribal Lands.
Lifeline is funded by the “Universal Service Fund,” which is supported by federal charges on phone bills that go toward not only lifeline but also Rural Health Care broadband services, and Broadband for schools and libraries (known as “E-rates).