T-Mobile South is now offering the Lifeline Assistance program to Florida’s needy residents. They joins Alltel to become the second traditional wireless carrier to offer a discount cell phone service to low-income Floridians.
T-Mobile can now receive reimbursement for each customer from the Federal Universal Service Fund, which telecommunications companies are required to contribute to. The fee is often passed on to consumers as a “Universal Connectivity Fee.”
T-Mobile’s program comes with a few twists that make it stand out (not necessarily in a good way) from most other Lifeline programs around the country. Like the other programs, T-Mobile customers are eligible to get discounted phones; but they are not free. The two biggest differences are the number of minutes customers receive and the price they pay.
Instead of offering 250 free minutes typical with free Lifeline programs in other states, T-Mobile’s Florida customers will get 145 “whenever” minutes plus 500 night minutes and 500 weekend minutes per month. It’s not free, however. They’ll be required to pay $6.49 and an activation fee of $17.50. And, unfortunately, a customer’s unused minutes will not roll over to the next month.
Another problem with this program is it appears that no text messaging is allowed. Other free government cell phones programs allow text messaging, usually at a cost of a dollar a text sent or received. Not cheap, but at least texting is available.
Also troubling is the 2-year contract we found in the fine print. The Lifeline programs we cover on FreeGovernmentCellPhones.net do not require a contract.
Qualifying for Lifeline in Florida is unfortunately all too easy these days. Residents who participate in certain public assistance programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and SSI, or have a qualifying income level are eligible under 150% of the federal poverty level, qualify. More than 618,000 Floridians participate in the Lifeline program already.
The Lifeline business is getting very crowded in Florida. According to the state’s Public Utility Commission, competitors include T-Mobile, Altel, Safelink Wireless (Tracfone) and Assurance Wireless (Virgin Mobile).
T-Mobile is rapidly expanding its presence in the Lifeline Assistance business and now competes in Kentucky, North Carolina, Washington State, and Puerto Rico.
T-Mobile Lifeline Program: click here
Source: Palm Beach Post