We’re years past the Great Recession, but times are still tough for millions of Americans. Especially now that inflation is rearing its ugly head and driving up the cost of living.
That means you might be faced with choosing between eating or paying for your mobile phone service (if you even have one). The simple fact is, cell phones and internet service have become necessary parts of your day-to-day survival, and to be without them is nearly unthinkable.
But help has arrived. Did you know that the government has authorized two different plans — Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program — that can really help you. The Lifeline plan, established back in 2009, can provide you with a free cell phone and free monthly service, and the Affordable Connectivity Program, established in 2021, can provide you with free (or incredibly inexpensive) internet service. The two programs can combine to help tens of millions Americans get these services at no charge.
Just how much could a free government cell phones and free internet service improve your life? Just consider:
You can find and apply for jobs far more easily if you have cell phone and internet service. And vice versa, an employer can far more easily reach you with a job offer.
You can you stay in touch with your doctor and other emergency medical professionals more easily with a mobile phone and internet service.
A cell phone and internet service can help you keep in touch with family and other loved ones.
The government will pay for your cell phone and service and internet service
Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called LifeLine Assistance, the financially disadvantaged can receive a cell phone and anywhere from 250 to an unlimited number of minutes and texts every month — at no charge! And in the best deal in the country, Assurance Wireless, in conjunction with the California Lifeline program, offers an incredible unlimited talk and text plan. No cost. We see this as a trend that others will follow.
Thanks to these free FCC-mandated, government-sponsored programs, the financially disadvantaged can receive a cell phone and service that goes with it. There are a number of different plans available and they offer anywhere from 250 free minutes a month on the low side to unlimited minutes, texts and data every month — all at no charge!
Two great programs — Lifeline and ACP
Here’s how Access Wireless, one of the nation’s largest Lifeline providers, describes the two programs:
Lifeline is the FCC’s permanent program to support affordable access to essential communications services such as broadband Internet access. The ACP is a new program designed to provide additional support to make broadband more affordable for struggling households. Your Lifeline and ACP benefits can be combined and applied to the same service plan or applied to different service plans.
An estimated 12-15 million other Americans already participate in Lifeline, and millions more qualify for the program but have not yet enrolled. What are you waiting for? As the economy slows down and unemployment ticks up, more and more Americans find themselves eligible for the Lifeline phone service program and/or the Affordable Connectivity Program.
In the 90’s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up the Lifeline phone. Funded by Universal Service Fund fees on telephone bills, Lifeline provides qualified consumers with free monthly telephone service. It began as just a landline program and a few years ago made its debut with cell phones back in 2009. It’s often called the Obama Phone, but that’s a misnomer, an urban legend, because the Lifeline free government cell phone program began under the Bush Administration.
And now the government has come up with another great program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) that gives you a $30 per month discount on internet service. And you get to choose the program to which you want to apply that discount. In many cases, that’s enough to get you a free government cell phone, unlimited free texting, unlimited free calling, and nearly unlimited internet service. Or, depending on how you want to use your discount, you can get unlimited internet service for free and a tablet or laptop computer at a huge, huge discount. And remember, the choice is yours.
Let’s talk about your free cell phone
We wish we could tell you that the free government cell phone you’ll receive is the latest, greatest smartphone, but that simply isn’t always true. In most cases, Lifeline Assistance companies are likely to send you a used, but very usable refurbished model.
The companies usually buy these refurbished phones in bulk, and you never know which make or model you will receive. While a few companies offer newer smartphones such as Androids, many will send a basic feature phone. If you feel that you must have the most up-to-date technology, such as an iPhone, the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program may not be a good match for you.
IIn addition to the phone, which comes with voice mail, call waiting and caller ID and other features, you will typically get at least 250 minutes per month, but as we’ve pointed out, you could receive unlimited voice minutes (and even unlimited texting!) per month depending on which plans are available in your state and which plan you choose. In addition, all companies offer the ability to send and receive text messages, some offering an unlimited number of texts.
How do you get this cell phone at no cost?
You can get your free mobile phone and service from dozens of Lifeline companies in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Big companies such as Safelink Wireless and Assurance Wireless offer plans almost everywhere and other regional providers and single state providers are also available to you. The list of companies varies on a state-by-state basis, but odds you’ll have an assortment of vendors to choose from.
To jump ahead to see if you qualify for the phone and service, click here now.
Since these are federally-mandated programs, there are basic features each company must offer. That said, the plans can vary measurably from company to company, so you need to check each offer in your state. You would not want to settle for 250 minutes when a competitor will give you 1,000 minutes or even unlimited minutes, would you?
Eligibility is nearly uniform from state to state (although the state of California has set up an entirely different set of standards). To simplify it down to the basics, you qualify if you participate in federal aid programs such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SSI among others. But that being said, each state can also offer additional ways to qualify. Even if you don’t participate in one of the listed Federal or state programs, you may be able to qualify based upon your income level. And to put a cherry on the Lifeline/ACP sundae, you can qualify even if your income is substantially higher than the poverty level.
So no matter why you need a mobile phone — to look for a job, to check in with medical professionals, to keep in touch with your kids, or just in case of emergencies — you can get one at no out of pocket expense.
We invite you to explore this site and learn more about the companies, the plans and how you can get your own free cell phone. Follow the link below to learn more on how to qualify.
Lifeline cell phones authorized by the FCC