We always say the more the merrier when it comes to competition in the free government cell phone business. We’ve often editorialized that an increase in the number of competitors would force everyone in the Lifeline Assistance business to offer their customers more — more services, more minutes, more texts, more of everything.
Now it’s proving to be true as Safelink Wireless and Assurance Wireless, the two biggest names in the free government cell phone business, attempt to attract more customers by offering bonus minutes and texts to new customers.
Safelink, number one in the business, now makes the following offer:
Assurance Wireless, number two in the business, ups the ante by offering even more:
And for the first time in the history of the free government cell phone business, we see one company comparing its plan to competitors’ plans.
We think this is just the beginning of a vicious dogfight between Lifeline Assistance companies. And this can only be good for Lifeline customers as the competition for their business heats up. We’ll undoubtedly see more companies making better offers by offering more minutes, more texts, and more services for free.
For example, AT&T Mobility (Alaska only) and several local Alaska phone companies are already offering 1200 anytime minutes and national long distance for just $1 per month. In Oklahoma, several companies are already offering 750 voice minutes and 1000 texts per month for just $1. AirFire, a Wisconsin-only cell phone company is offering 500 voice minutes and 500 texts every month for free. And Dart, an Oklahoma-only cell phone company, is now offering unlimited talk for just $1 per month.
When the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program originated a few years back, the standard plan offered by every competitor was 250 free voice minutes. That gradually expanded to 250 voice minutes OR 250 texts and that soon increased to 250 voice minutes AND 250 texts.
Now the big boys are feeling the pressure and offering more services. They’re in a strange business where they can’t attract new customers by cutting prices (because it’s impossible to charge less than zero), so the only alternative is to offer them more minutes, more texts and more services for free.
As you can see in the Assurance chart, Safelink now offers new customers 250 voice minutes and 1000 texts per month, and Assurance is offering 250 voice minutes and unlimited texts.
This is all terrific news for low income Americans struggling to get by in today’s shaky economy.