Free government cell phone program creeps into California

You may wonder why we use the word “creep” to describe the introduction of the government’s free cell phone program in California. You’ll understand why when we tell you that the state’s newest Lifeline Assistance program isn’t quite free and is available only in Bakersfield.

The newest competitor, a company called Telscape Communications, is introducing the Lifeline Assistance program in the Central California community. Subscribers who qualify for the program will receive a free cell phone (just as in most other sates), but will be required to pay $2.50 per month for 300 minutes of talk or text time (most Lifeline programs in other states offer 250 minutes for free). So while the program requires customers to pay a little more, but also gives them a little more.

Telescape is focusing its efforts on low-income Hispanic consumers, and they will support the program with an ad campaign in Spanish. Nevertheless, the program is available to anyone who qualifies.

Ahhhh, but that brings up the question, “Do I qualify?” And the answer to that question is really very simple.

There are two ways to qualify. One, you can qualify if your household income falls below federally-established poverty guidelines. For example, a family of four will qualify if the household income falls below $34,000. The second way to qualify is if someone in your household participates in any one of several government assistance programs, such as Medicaid/Medi-Cal, Section 8 Federal housing, food stamps (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (NSL), or WIC. You can even qualify if your children participate in the national School Lunch Program.

Please note that there is one additional catch to Telscape’s program. The company charges a one-time service activation fee of $62. Don’t despair, though. If you qualify for Telscape’s free government cell phone program, that fee will be discounted to just $32.

Of course, as in all other states, only one Lifeline program cell phone is available per household.

We’re happy to see that Telescape is now competing with ReachOut Wireless by offering this inexpensive variation on the Lifeline program in California. However, we can help but wonder why no company has yet introduced the free cell phone program that’s available in most other states.

That’s what California’s needy resident’s really need.


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  1. linda ellis says

    Im on social security disability im a senior citizen 59yrs old im also disabled i have stage 2 parkinsons

  2. Vanessa G says

    I am extremely dis satisfied with Telscape. I received my phone in 3 weeks instead of the promised two weeks.When I received it there was no operating instructions at all that came with the phone.Before I switched all my info from my Verizon phone to my new Telscape Android phone I had to insure all feature capabilities were in place and fully accessible.THey were not all fully easy to use nor worked.I called the company at all 3 numbers and got a recording that said that the office was not open even though I called MOnday at 9 a.m. then the other numbers that were provided were a result of all these shannigans I reproted Telscape to the BBB and I will have to have the service cancel.TElscape is unprofessional and false!!!

  3. DEAN MENSAH says

    Thanks for the information. If I am a reseller or distributor of phone services just like telscape, how can I sign onto the government service to provide such a service to low income citizens?
    Dean Mensah.

  4. alice fierro says

    Please send information about your free government phones. I would like to sign up if someone can call me 562-443-****

  5. aja says

    I live in sacramento ca. i believs my phone proviser was print but i am not exactly sure but someone stole my phone and i am not sure what to do about please someone email me at ***** idk what to do

  6. Gustavo says

    I recvd my phone the other day, a week after being approved. I was lucky, seems I rcvd it pretty quick from ready comments. My question is regarding internet. Is our phone able to pick up internet. I have Sprint as my provider. I called Telscape and hung up after an hour.

  7. thuyloan says

    I received a phone LG ,It just worked for a few calling ,and now it no working ,how can I get another one ?
    thak you .

  8. Mary says

    I was very disappointed to find out that my current land line provider Verizon has over charged me by about 42.00 because I was sucked into getting this “Free” cell phone service. My adice to anyone thinking of getting a free phone by this place would be to think again. I am disabled. Had lifeline through Verizon, paying only about $20.00 a month for my landline which includes internet. I have never had or owned a cell phone, yeh crazy as it seems I cannot afford one on my low income. Because LifeLine only allows 1 telephone provider I was cancelled by Lifeline when they found out I had signed up for Telscape. Yeh Telscape called my Verizon right away when I signed up to tell Verizon I had switched telephone providers! My phone bill was over $60.00 this month!!! I mmediately called Verizon about it and to make a long story short It’s been a nightmare! Have been trying to get in touch with Telscape to CANCEL and was put on hold for over 45 minutes and still no resolution. I ended up hanging up on them. They gave me another phone number to call but to speak with a live person you need to put in your Cell phone number. I was never mailed my cell number or cell phone. Signed up August 5th, approved on August 8th. I am desperately trying to cancel my application If I can ecer get a hold of someone. It may be great deal if you don’t have lifeline…really don’t know. I’m just speaking for myself. I’m better off with Verizon and now wish I had never signed up for this…which sounds like a great deal.

  9. Jessica says

    How can i contact them ? What number? I qualified and received my phone number by mail but its been a lil more then a month and no phone yet.

  10. Veronica says

    This information is old, if you get a lifeline service you don’t pay for any activation fee. It’s free as well as the cell phone. It says it on there web site.

  11. MaiAnh says

    I received a motorola phone model WX 435.but battery was not charge. I think a hanset need update
    Software if not a handset not take a charger.please send to my phone new
    software to up date new software into my phone. My cell is 7146125260.

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      As you can see above on this page, food stamps and the 50 million others on SNAP makes you eligible.

      Method 1 Program-Based – You can qualify if you or another person in your household is enrolled in any one of the following public assistance programs:

      “Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)”

      • William Lakes says

        I emailed Telscape a few days ago about the status of my phone application and today I received a phone from telscape @ 760 980-****. However, we are having trouble with the house phone where I am staying. Can you please reach me by gmail? I have no idea how long our phone will be down. I am a senior citizen and I’m disabled. I really need a phone as soon as possible. Sorry for the problems. Please lend me your help.

  12. Joseph Bernard Magnus says

    I have apply for a life line phone an received a telephone number thee weeks ago but no phone

    • cass says

      i was approved 5/12 and have yet to receive a phone but called they gave me my number. Called again last week and was told they would contact shipping and to call back in 3 days. have not been successful in getting through despite staying on hold for 1 hour….

  13. Vanessa C says

    Who is the initial carrier of the Telscape service? I only ask because I had Reachout and they went through Verizon. Thank you in advance. :)

  14. Bryant says

    I lost the phone I received in the mail & don’t remember the phone number and wish to receive a replacement phone if that’s possible, my GR case # is TB12EC7 & the last four of my s.s# is 1085

  15. vmoney says

    I just signed up for telscape supposedly 1000 minutes free phone .I was told id get the phone in 7 to 10 days well its been more than ten days. I have not received the phone but I received a letter from lifeline with my new phone number switching lifeline from my house phone to a phone I dont have. I need to talk to someone at telscape does anyone know the number

  16. Laurel Rudy says

    Where is the application to get a free cell phone? This website is really confusing, because you have other things posted on here besides just news about the free government phones. . Also, even though I’m in California, it says that seniors are FREE, no monthly fees, etc. please confirm?

  17. Mr Marruffo says

    This is bull, living in California, attempted to get a free phone and they are just like the regular phone companies, activation fees 30 dollars, fed taxes, state local taxes 5.60. phone Soldout to 149.00, shipping and handling……. monthly fee……requalification fees. this is ridiculous, just get a cheap tracfone

  18. Justin Thompson says

    It is disturbing that California being that it has about 1/8 of the U.S. population and has over 35% of the welfare cases and a 1/3 of it’s money has come from the rest of the nation for the past 20 years can’t even properly or legally run a federal government funded program but chooses to give cell phones to illegal aliens and people that are primarilly here to partake in the welfare system and sell drugs and even if the person works a legimate job @9.00 per hour it does not matter when the woman has 9 kids all on the welfare roles, and it gets worse, the majority of the California prison population is hispanic and the state often does not even deport these criminals back were they came from.
    The bottomline is that if you are white and a natural born U.S. citizen in CA you have nothing comming except bills from the state.

  19. Cory Cole says

    The place where I live at has 2 houses but 1 mailbox and my neighbor was telling me about the program. Can I still order a phone?

  20. brrenda hixson says

    i need a goverment cell phone. my question is my daughter received one on this address. she no longer lives here and her phone has no service. can i still get one ? i curently im on foodstamps.

  21. henry lopez says

    i tryed geting a phone….bunch of lies dosnt work they aint free i lost everything cant get of hold of love ones

  22. shawnalynn davis says

    hello i am low incom and a single mother i do get food stamps and i need a phone to keep in touch with my sons school if you can please help me i would be verry greatful thakk you

  23. wendy mugar says

    i do need a free government assisted cell phone im on food stamps and low income how do i get one?

  24. Christine says

    My mother is in an assisted living home, so she has an address. Her own room she rents through SSI and receives medical/medicare. Can she get a Life Fone cell phone for free and where do I call? Thanks :)

  25. Lorraine Ontiveros says

    I want to apply for cell ph. how can i do that is there an application or ph. no. so i can do this…

  26. Rolinda A. Tabangin says

    I am an immigrant (10 months) at Chula Vista CA and benificiary of CMS (County Medical Services) and umemployed staying with a family of 6 of my daughter. Am I qualified for a free government cell phone? Please advise. Thanks.

    • Justin Thompson says

      You are most definately qualified because you are not a U.S. citizen and probably not white and if you were then you would get nothing.

  27. Jessica A. says

    This is soo unbelivable. A 32 dollar accredited phone, for as low as 2.50 a month. Wow, this is a resonably considerable claim. Jump on it, it,s free.

  28. CharlesS. says

    Living in calif on SSI , I’ve been foolishly paying $40 a month for a cell phone and $5 for house phone its time I made a change . I already have Lifeline and I know I will have to give up my AT$T but I consider it a fair trade .

  29. Nancy Frazer says

    I am frustrated with the people that fraudulently use this benefit and then the people and states that have it and we can t get it in MN. I am on a medical need for now and “earn” $203.00/month and $200.00 for SNAP benefit. All of my needs have to be met with those funds or else do without. Since I have no interest in MA fraud on my record and going to jail is not a goal I have. Going back to work is, until then living SAFELY is my need. Why have a program if it isn’t available to people that will use it judiciously and then discontinue when no longer available. If you made the fines and the penalties prohibitive and STICK maybe people would start to remember it is not right to take something that doesn’t belong to them. That is stealing and there are penalties for stealing.

    • Justin Thompson says


      If you want to see fraud and complete missuse of your tax dollars you need not look no further than California and the Obama administration, just look at their policies and facts.
      Just be glad that you live in MN.

  30. Redacted says

    I would like the 1877-777-???? telephone number to call and get one of these wireless phones. Also, I live at a homeless shelter and the non-profit organization uses lifeline service. Can I, a man who is interested in a cell phone, still get one of these valuable means of communication?

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      You’re going to have trouble getting a phone at the Homeless Shelter as only one phone is allowed per physical address. It really screws people up at shelters and other multi-tenant housing. Really sorry to tell you this, as it sounds like you could really use one. Talk to the people that run the shelter and see what they say.