The U.S. Government is providing free cell phones and free plans to low-income families across America.
A little-publicized program from the Reagan era that has been providing low-income households with free or subsidized phone services for more than 25 years has recently begun offering free cell phones and plans in lieu of a land line. The program is known as Lifeline”, and anyone with an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guideline can qualify. For a family of three, that means an income of around $26,000 or less qualifies for a free cell phone.
Lifeline is providing free cell phones in lieu of land lines because of the costs and cumbersome regulations governing traditional copper networks across America. Essentially, it costs more to provide land line services than it does to provide a free cell phone and free plan. The way it works is relatively straightforward. Carriers receive a flat payment of $10 per month for each family, which covers the cost of one basic phone and plan. There are no connection fees, installation charges, or wires to be installed, so the end result is a less expensive service with greater coverage and portability.
There are limitations, one being that subscribers are offered either a free land line or a free cell phone and plan, not both, and they can have only one line per family or household. A list of the states and carriers providing these free cell phone plans can be found at phoneservices.us, where you can also find a more in-depth review of the program details. It should be noted that not all states participate, and even in those that do, the service isn’t always available.
Overall the program is the kind of success story rarely seen in federal aid programs. This is largely due to the program’s own internal oversight, which according to the FCC has saved more than $230 million over the last two years. In fact, the savings have been so significant that they are rolling out a pilot broadband program to assist low-income families with free broadband internet connectivity.
Critics have little to say, as this is an excellent example of a federal success story. By connecting low-income families with essential communication necessities the program has helped millions meet basic needs and improve their quality of life. For example, a family might be able to connect with an employer to improve job prospects, or reach medical assistance in the event of an emergency.
Mobile phones and the ways we use them have been changing almost as quickly as the technologies used to produce them. Mobile phone and internet connectivity are now basic necessities of the modern world. And providing cell phones is in fact a less expensive and more effective program per household than federally subsidized land lines.Powered by Sidelines