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How To Get Low Income Phone Service

Low Income Phone ServiceThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for regulating all communication technology including radio, TV, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC has established the Universal Service Fund (USF) program to ensure that all consumers have access to quality telecommunications services at reasonable and affordable rates.

Home Phone

A component of the USF program is the Low Income program, which provides help with installation and monthly telephone costs for qualifying low-income consumers.

There are two public assistance programs under the Low Income program: Link Up America and Lifeline. Link Up America primarily helps with costs associated with landline telephone installation, while Lifeline (created during the Reagan administration) provides discounts on monthly landline phone service. Over 1,500 telephone companies across the United States participate in these two programs.

Though guidelines for signing up for these programs can vary by state, you can contact your local telephone company for more information. There may also be other local sites and third-party agencies that can provide information on these discount programs. You can look up specific procedures and guidelines for your state at www.lifelinesupport.org to determine your eligibility to participate in Lifeline and Link Up. For more information, visit the official web site of the FCC Universal Service Program for Low-Income Users.

Cell Phone

Through Lifeline, there is a government supported program called Safelink Wireless - created by TracFone Wireless, Inc that offers affordable cell phone services to low income subscribers. Here's how it works: They apply the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes, and TracFone provides the wireless handset at the company’s expense. Instead of receiving a subsidized monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, SafeLink converts the total amount of discounted service into minutes each month for one year. The cell phone they provide, isn't a smart phone or PDA, but does offer in-demand features including voicemail, texting, three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID and access to 911.

Eligibility guidelines depend on which state you live in, but in general, you qualify if you are already participating in another public assistance program. You may also qualify based on your total household gross monthly income. For more information, visit www.safelinkwireless.com

 


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