Cincinnati Bell enters Lifeline cell phone program in Ohio

Cincinnati Bell has just entered the Lifeline cell phone market in Ohio, with plans to expand in neighboring Kentucky soon. The service is offered through their wireless prepaid cell phone service, i-wireless.

Until now, low-income and other qualifying needy residents of Ohio relied on the established, national Lifeline companies Safelink Wireless and Assurance Wireless to provide them with free mobile phone service. But you do need to take note of the difference in how Cincinnati Bell plans work compared the other two providers.

Safelink Wireless and Assurance Wireless give both a free cell phone and the free airtime to subscribers. But, according to the i-wireless Lifeline Wireless Program page, while get the 250 minutes you have to pay for the cell phone, which starts at $19.95. We do not know why this is; either they are providing a better phone than the others do, or they are not a participant in the Link-Up program. (Lifeline subsidizes the monthly service and Link-Up subsidizes the phone itself.)

The Ohio Cincinnati Bell i-wireless plans

The i-wireless plans for Lifeline participants break down like this:

  • Connect Plan – Provides 250 free local minutes per month, 10 cents roaming and additional local minutes, And 20 cents per text. Note that minutes do not rollover and there are no data capabilities. $0 Monthly Fee.
  • Lifeline Unlimited Talk & Text Plan – Includes unlimited local minutes and text messaging, 100 nationwide roaming minutes (plus 10 cents each additional), and 5 cents per Kb of data. $28 Monthly Fee.
  • Lifeline Mega Monthly Plan – Includes unlimited local minutes and text messaging, 1,000 nationwide roaming minutes (plus 10 cents each additional), and 100 MB of data (plus 5 cents per Kb additional. $38 Monthly Fee.

Who qualifies for a Lifeline wireless phone in Ohio?

You qualify for Lifeline service in Ohio if your income is at or under 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if you receive benefits from any of these programs:

  • Section 8/Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Free National School Lunch Program (NSL)
  • General Assistance/Disability Assistance
  • Home Energy Assistance (HEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI)
  • Ohio Works First or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

One advantage of using i-wireless over Safelink or Assurance is that you can enroll in their Lifeline phone service in person at any Cincinnati Bell retail store or any authorized i-wireless distributor. To find a store visit


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  1. ROB says

    Researching why CBell regular service ($50?) plus Fiops ($48 + $10 equip/maint) plus “care” $10 making your bill almost $100/month? This is ridiculous if you’re an SSI recipient!

  2. leslie says

    HI, im currently in a domestic violence shelter, im homeless im unemployed and i have proof of my situation,a few ladies went to your store downtown dayton ohio some where able to get phones and some were not, all women having the same imformation why is this?I meet the criteria, i have my goverment ID & I have a letter, on letter head stationary with name and address,& phone number of the shelter im in.Its dated and signed with the name of a contact person here at the shelter.I just applied for food stamps,still waiting on interview, in the mean time what do homeless do about a phone.?

  3. kayv says

    WOW! Paying $19.00 for a phone and free service up to 250 mins. is a great deal. Why would someone complain when they get free service? Oh, maybe because they can’t exceed minutes without being charged. Give me a break; the phone is not suppose to be used for recreational use. Be happy they even sent you another one when you broke your phone. Try asking other cell plans to (oops I broke mine) to send you another one without some kind of insurance.
    My mother is on SS, is she able to get this service?

  4. teddybearandie says

    What the heck? I got a SAFELINK PHONE, and I have yet to pay for it, and I’ve had it for over a year and a half, and have received the 250 minutes for over aa year, and never had to pay for the phone, even when I had to get a replacement for the original handset they gave me when I broke it by accident. That is so misleading to me, and makes me want to reconsider the fact that I was looking into Cincinnati Bell Wirelessb for the LifeLine phone service. On top of that, if you text or use extra minuutes…you get charges!?!?!?!?!? NOT the “FREE PHONE” they try to advertise.

  5. rhonda says

    i am on welfare and getting food stamps i dont work no money coming in how do i get a phone from cincinnati bell