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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 .

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 :)

  7. wendy mugar says

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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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?

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