It was more than seven years ago when the recession caused many people to really start having financial problems. It hasn’t changed much today, and trying to pay all of the bills, including your phone bill, can still be a difficult feat. Many people have done what they can to lower their cell phone bill, from letting go of certain features to giving up their service altogether. However, there is a way that some people can receive a certain type of cell phone device at no cost to them.
Phone service has gone from a privilege to a necessity in today’s world. They provide a crucial connection to family, coworkers and friends, as well as the ability to call for emergency medical services if need be. Lives have depended on having a cell phone handy, so it is curious as to why the government does not provide free cell phone service at a more regular pace.
Government-Assisted Cell Phone Service at No-Cost
Mandated by the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, there is a service that is supported by the government for people who may not be financially stable enough to support their own cell phone bill. It is called Lifeline Assistance, and those who are eligible will receive a mobile phone with 250 minutes or more per month along with SMS. However, data may be limited or altogether non-existent. But since the Assurance Wireless plan is paired together with California Lifeline, there is the potential of having an unlimited amount of text and talk time in the future, which will undoubtedly become more popular in the coming years among other cell phone service providers. Around 12-15 million Americans have enrolled in the program as financial issues have worsened in the past years.
The FCC originated the Lifeline program back in the 1990’s, with funding offered by the Universal Service Fund. This particular program was funded by fees generated from late telephone bills. As a show of generosity, the Universal Service Fund allowed the program to use these fees to offer discounted telephone services, or completely waived fees, to eligible American citizens. Today, the program covers both landline and cell phone plans and has been mistakenly referred to as “Obama phones” even though it began in the era of the Bush Administration. Millions of Americans across the country have utilized the Lifeline program and millions more will do so in the future.
Features Included in the Phone
Anyone who is hoping for a more mobile computing device should know that they cannot pick and choose the type of smartphone that they receive. The type, both brand and model, are basically selected from an assortment of old, refurbished cell phones that are generally a year or two behind the newer models. This could include an Android model that lags in processing power and storage space. Since the recipient is getting a phone with either low fees or no fees at all, they are expected to do without the latest upgrades that the newer Galaxy and iPhone cell phones usually come with.
Finding Out if You Qualify
Currently, there are 49 states that are supporting the Lifeline program, alongside Puerto Rico and D.C. Both the plans and the cell phone devices are given out through a number of popular brands in the mobile communications industry. These included names such as Assurance Wireless, Budget Mobile and Safelink Wireless. Even if you have never heard of these particular companies before, they are still quite well-known, so it is safe to say that at least one covers your geographical area.
What You Should Expect
Don’t get your hopes up that you will be getting a newer device or a super-fast service, as it all depends on the company and the state that the service is provided in. You can do some research beforehand to see exactly what company offers what, especially if you are more worried about data limits. Many enrolled Americans are not concerned with the amount of data that they get, so companies may emphasize the talk and text portion of the phones more.
If you qualify for a free or reduced cell phone in your state, then chances are you will qualify in all states. If you are already eligible for government programs such as food stamps, Medicaid or cash assistance, you will probably be eligible for a phone as well. Even if you are not actually enrolled in any of these programs, your annual income may allow you to be eligible for a phone if it is below a certain point. Even if you are above the poverty line in your state, you may still qualify for a free device.
Lifeline Assistance can help you get the phone plan that you need to cover family communication, medical emergencies and call-backs from job interviews. Check out more information concerning the companies involved to see if you qualify today.
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