As much as the digital divide has narrowed down in the US, many people still lack access to mobile phones. This is mostly caused by low income or the inability to pay for monthly talk, text, and data plans. If you are in such a scenario, you can get a free phone from the government through a lifeline service provider. These service providers are authorized and funded by the US Government to issue free phones and plan to qualified persons.
It’s hard to imagine what life would be without access to telecommunication services and because of extensive improvements in the sector, most people can access affordable cell phone plans. However, for those who cannot, the government partnered with Lifeline Assistance firms to provide its citizens with free cell phones. Through the Lifeline Assistance Program, you can qualify for free cell phones and inexpensive cell phone plans.
Another affordable option is the free cell phone no money down no credit check service offered by a number of cell phone service providers such as Verizon. This service basically allows you to acquire these phone units without a down payment or a credit check.
How does the Lifeline Program work?
Communication is vital irrespective of one’s financial standing and because of that; The Lifeline Assistance Program exists to cater to the needs of low-income earners who cannot completely afford their cell phone needs. Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of phones and internet costs
Eligible customers will get up to a $9.25 discount on their bills. You can only use Lifeline for either phone or internet, but not both. Through the over 58 Lifeline Assistance Companies, the government issues free phones per state with each company offering varied packages and plans suited for the population within their jurisdictions.
For example, The Assurance Wireless offer provides eligible low-income homes, free monthly data, unlimited texting, and free monthly minutes plus a free phone. You should therefore do a bit of research on what company is best suited for you in terms of your location and the kind of services that you require before matching your preferences.
Assist Wireless, Assurance Wireless, Cintex Wireless, and Copper Valley Wireless are just but a few of the many telephone carriers that offer free government phones and affordable cell phone plans through the Lifeline Assistance Program.
How you can get a free smartphone with Lifeline Program
Let’s go through this using a series of simple steps, shall we?
i) Know your providers
You want to start off by finding out which providers are available to you. What do they offer? Really just get a broad perspective of what is out there, kind of what you are doing now.
ii) Dig deeper
Once you find out which carriers are available in your area, do some research on each individual to decide on which one will best suit your needs.
iii) Sign up
Go ahead to the official website of your most preferred carrier and sign up. Most of the websites are user-friendly so the process shouldn’t be difficult.
How to qualify for a free government phone
Although some companies have different checking points when they choose their beneficiaries, they generally look at the following two main points:
1. Income-based eligibility
You qualify for Lifeline if your total household income is at or below the 135% mark of the federal poverty guidelines. This also takes into account the number of dependents there are in a household such that, the more people there are in your home, the easier it is for you to walk away with a free phone.
2. Participation in Federal assistance programs
You qualify for a free government cell phone if you or any member of your household participates in Federal assistance programs including but not limited to
- Food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- National School Lunch Program (NSL)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
Generally, you may automatically qualify for a government-free phone if you are already enrolled in a government aid program.
Best free phone providers for low-income families, Lifeline program
Qlink wireless is ranked as the best carrier in terms of offering lifeline services in comparison to other lifeline providers with regard to their plans. In other carriers, you can even get 100 MB as your free monthly data while Qlinkoffers 1024 MB.
It provides free cell phones on behalf of the government in various states like Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, and Washington, just to mention a few. Qlink users not only get free cell phones but also get 500 free minutes of calls and unlimited text messages in the first month.
The user also gets offers and deals for simply referring friends to use it, for example, one gains a bonus of 100 free minutes of calls for every friend referred. Q Link Wireless company’s official website is Qlink wireless.
2) Assurance Wireless
This is one of the most popular service providers or carriers when it comes to the Lifeline Assistance Program. Offering 350 free calls as well as 500MB free internet data with its California users boasting of unrestricted calls and texts and another free 500MB in free internet data.
It also allows subscribers to top up to add to their free 350 minute talk time. The company is generally popular because of its wide network coverage and internet reliability. Aside from California, it works in a large number of states such as Alabama and Arizona.
To be noted is that Assurance Wireless does not have an annual contract hence no need for recertification giving it an advantage over other service providers.
3) Assist Wireless
Assist Wireless offers free cell phones in Arkansas, Maryland, and Oklahoma among other states. It is nicknamed the Obama Phone Company for being one of the first carriers to support the Lifeline program under the Obama government.
The company provides lifeline phones and prepaid plans to a wide array of customers that are beneficiaries or are eligible for any federal program. It provides free government cell phones to qualified users from several states.
Some states get free services, receiving 500 minutes as well as text messages and 1GB free data per month, while others get these services at a little fee per month. It is popular because of its wide network coverage. The Assist Wireless Company’s official website is Assist wireless.
This is one of the oldest and biggest companies to collaborate with the government in regard to the provision of free cell phones to eligible beneficiaries. It has benefited members from several States in the USA, California, and Europe among others.
It has extremely wide network coverage and hence it is very popular among users. Safelink provides free smartphones, sim cards, and services. The free services or deals that it offers include unlimited call minutes, text messages, and 2GB of free data in a month.
These services vary per region and hence you should do your due diligence to find out which services are offered in your region. The official website of Safelink Wireless is Safelink wireless.
5) entouch Wireless
If you live in California, you should probably head over to enTouch’s website to see what they have in store for you. It offers its California State users enviable deals. The eligible users of California tribal land get 750 free MB data, unlimited texts, and calls per month. Other states have moderate deals that incur a little charge to upgrade.
If you already own a smartphone and want to enroll enTouch Wireless Lifeline assistance, you can keep the old device since the company has the Bring Your Own Phone subprogram, you will even get 100 Mb data as a bonus from the provider. These deals just keep on getting better and better, don’t they?
Restrictions to get free phones
Of course, not everyone can get a free government phone or none of us would ever pay a telephone bill. As I mentioned earlier, only those who fit the set criteria are issued with free phones. It should be noted, however, that there is a need to get an annual recertification license.
The fact that you have been issued with a free phone and reaped all its benefits does not guarantee that you shall be a beneficiary indefinitely, hence the need for recertification.
Also, seeing as they are free, don’t expect advanced features in your free government phone, although with technological advancements, they continue to improve.
As the telecommunication sector continues to advance, free government phones only serve to level the playing field by providing access to quality modes of communication to low-income households. Of importance is proper and comprehensive research to ensure maximum benefit is obtained from this program.
Free government phones through the Lifeline Assistance Program truly have the potential to fully eliminate the existing digital divide in our society if fully embraced. So grab that phone, will you? Break the barriers that your financial limitations imposed on you and take over the world, well, figuratively.