A lot of people can benefit from a government service they might not be aware of and can get a free cell phone for low income family. The Lifeline program dates back to 1985 when only four out of five families had land line telephone service.
The government offered a subsidy to the phone company to make sure everyone had a chance to have telephone service in their home. It was considered an essential service for families so they could connect with emergency services,extended family, schools, and employers.
By 2005, the program had been modified to include cell phones. Most homes had been connected with land lines and new technology was making cell phones more common. By connected people, no matter where they were, cell phones were changing from a luxury to a necessity. Supporting the expansion of the service, gave more people access to an essential form of communication.
There are several service providers who are part of the program and offer free phones and service. The first is Assurance Wireless which is a division of Virgin Mobile and uses the Sprint network. The first 250 voice minutes and text messages are free as is access to…
- Customer service
- Voice mail
- Caller ID
- Call waiting
There is no contract and the account is automatically renewed every month. More minutes and texts can be added at ten cents each or five dollars for 250 more minutes and texts. Twenty extra dollars gets 750 minutes and texts a month and thirty upgrades to unlimited talk, text, and web.
There are some limitations to the program including the number of minutes and text messages that are offered as part of the account. However, most of the services that are part of the program offer upgrades for those who need more than the minimum that is offered.
The service providers offer a free phone as an incentive to attract new customers. The service is paid for by the government who give the providers about nine dollars and twenty five cents, plus any state subsidies, for every account they sign up.
The Lifeline program is not paid by taxpayers, but is funded through service charges on regular cell phone accounts. This is part of the Universal Service Fund to make sure low income families always have access to this valuable resource. Those who receive government aid are normally eligible for the program as well as any family earning 135% or less of the federal poverty level.
Service is also provided by Reachout Wireless, which is a division of Nexus Communications. Signing up for the program is simple, there are only a few requirements to qualify for the program. Anyone receiving almost any of the government aid programs automatically qualify. However, the account must be re-qualified every after the application is accepted, ReachOut sends a new or refurbished phone, based on availability which is pre-loaded with minutes and airtime. Instructions for activation are included. For those who are interested, they offer a fifteen dollar phone upgrade plan.
Another option is from a division of TracFone called Safelink Wireless. Like the other programs, they offer one free handset per qualifying household and 250 free minutes, or 1000 text messages, as part of its package since it uses a system of credits. The plan is administered by TracFone and they offer easy methods to purchase more credits to supplement the account and some of them will even rollover under certain plans.
Some families will find the service offered by Budget Mobile to be an attractive alternative. There is no choice of phone as they send what is available and it takes about ten days for it to be shipped through the mail. Some of the advantages to this service, which are similar to other options include…
- No activation fees
- No recurring fees
- No bills
- No contracts
They only offer 250 free minutes each month and the account must be re-qualified every year, but this can be done online.
Consider All The Options To Make A Wise Choice
There is another choice available through Life Wireless. They are part of the Telrite Corporation and offer a feature rich account that includes nationwide calling, free long distance, three-way calling, and caller ID. They will also send a free phone, but for those who have their own unlocked GSM phone, they offer a free SIM card that will work on an existing phone. If the phone they send turns out to be defective within the first two years, they will replace it for free.