Who pays for these free cell phones?

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Everyone who owns a telephone pays. A few cents is tacked on to every phone bill every month. It’s listed on those bills as the Universal Service Fund. All those pennies are put into a program called LifeLine to bring quality telephone service to every American.

In 1996 Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which states that all providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner. The next year, in 1997, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Universal Service Fund (USF) to meet the goals of the Telecommunications Act just passed.



  1. William M. Hubicki says

    Thanks for the cell phone. I can use it a lot. Maybe someday I will get another phone. But for now thanks.

  2. March 8, 2014 says

    Stop complaining about the phone quality. Pay for your own phone instead of letting everyone else pay for you so you can have a “free” phone. I’m not impressed by how many lazy people out there think they should get necessities for free. Work for a living so you can afford your own items.

    • Kat says

      You don’t seem to understand that these are for working people. Well over 60% of Americans qualify for programs such as these at some point in their lives.

  3. horrible phone says

    the phone they sent sucks. samsung S125G. 10 dollar phone. its too small. I’ve made 2 calls and the quality sucked. so while their offering free phones, im not impressed with the phone and call quality

  4. it's a TAX not a fee says

    my landland has fees that are about $12 a month. THAT helps to fund phones for everyone else. including the free phone I just got. for me its free, but then again its not free. anyone that pays taxes pay for it.

  5. Beth says

    After reading all of these posts, I am still “wondering” what would my niece and her n’er do well husband need 1250 minutes and 1250 texts (and they use them ALL each month) for? They get EBT and one free phone with 250 min/texts a month. I purchased them a straighttalk phone with 1000 min/texts a month for the past year and a half, until they can “get on their feet”. I also buy them paper goods, soap, etc. that EBT will not. There have been no “real” job prospects that I know of. I guess I’m just completely naive. I have a landline and a cell that combined I don’t use 1250 minutes in 3 months!

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