Financially disadvantaged Americans can get a free government cell phone and up to 250 free minutes of air time every month by enrolling in the LifeLine program.
Did you know you the U.S. government has authorized phone companies to provide free cell phones along with free phone service to millions Americans? Well, it is true. A Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-mandated, government-sponsored program called LifeLine Assistance will provide financially disadvantaged Americans a free government cell phone and up to 250 free minutes of air time every month. How big is this program? So far, an estimated 15 million Americans are already participating in the program, and tens of millions more citizens currently qualify to enroll as more Americans find themselves eligible for the LifeLine phone service program in the current weak economy.
Free government cell phones became a reality back in the 80’s when the federal government set up the LifeLine phone service program through a mandate by the FCC in order to reduce the cost of phone service to rural and needy customers. The LifeLine program is funded by the Universal Service Fund fees charged on all “regular” telephone bills today. This means the program uses the money collected from other phone users to provide disadvantaged consumers with discounted or completely free monthly telephone service. LifeLine began as a landline program and eventually made the transition to cell phones. The program grew to include discounted cell service but took off in 2009, partly because the TracFone Company announced a new program whereby eligible individuals could get a free phone and free monthly minutes. As a result, participation in the program skyrocketed under the current administration, leading some people to call the service the “Obama phone.”
Today there are millions of free government phone accounts provided by the major mobile phone companies who are backed by large telecommunications companies like Sprint, Nextel, and Verizon. Although LifeLine account holders are unlikely to receive an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, they will get a decent, recent model, full-featured cell phone. Along with a free cell phone that comes with free voice mail, call waiting and caller ID, LifeLine users usually receive 250 minutes of free airtime per month as well. In some cases, LifeLine users will also receive the ability to send and receive text messages, and all services are indirectly paid for by other American phone users. Anyone on food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Head Start, and several other government programs can qualify for the program. Anyone interested in participating in the LifeLine Assistance program today can get enrollment information from any of the current major cell phone service providers. Those that lack a phone to call about the enrollment details will have to borrow someone else’s phone or simply make the call from a pay phone.