LifeLine/SafeLink Fact Sheet
Taken directly from . . .
There is no “Obama phone” or other newly created federal program to provide free cell phones. As you may know, this is a myth that is now circulating on the Web via email and blog sites. It has been thoroughly debunked by independent groups. (See for example: FactCheck.org, which notes: “Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it.”
The federal “Lifeline” program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supported on a broadly bipartisan basis in Congress. The FCC’s Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. Lifeline support reduces eligible low-income consumers’ monthly charges for basic telephone service.
Thanks to SafeLink, Lifeline support is now available for wireless phones. Traditionally, the Lifeline program was only available as a discount on a consumer’s landline telephone bill. SafeLink Wireless was created by TracFone Wireless, Inc. when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved the company to offer Lifeline — a public assistance program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for low-income subscribers. SafeLink Wireless applies the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes and TracFone provides the wireless handset at the company’s expense. Instead of receiving a subsidized monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, SafeLink converts the total amount of discounted service into minutes each month for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID and access to 911.
SafeLink phones are not paid for by taxpayers or the federal government. TracFone Wireless pays for the phones and also the cost of promoting its SafeLink program to make sure that eligible consumers know about the program.
SafeLink Wireless is making the vision of universal access to telecommunications services for all Americans a reality. As of October 2009, SafeLink has over 2 million customers and is available in 26 states – Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin – and the District of Columbia. Today, there are over 1,700 companies in the United States currently providing discounted telephone service. But, thanks to its extensive outreach promoting SafeLink, TracFone Wireless is one of the largest providers of Lifeline services in the United States, second only to AT&T.
Only certain Americans are eligible for SafeLink. Eligibility guidelines vary by state but in general individuals qualify if they participate in a public assistance program such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), National Free School Lunch, Federal Housing/Section 8 Assistance, or if they do not receive any of these public assistance programs, they may also qualify based on total household gross monthly income. Customers can learn more or apply by calling 1-800-SAFELINK or visiting www.SafeLink.com
Your exact benefits, including the number of free Minutes you will receive, depend on the state you live in.