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, 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. 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….

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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