The federal government has a Lifeline program that assists the less fortunate Americans in accessing affordable communication plans. Beneficiaries can get free phones which they can use to communicate with others. But how can I get a free government tablet? I will take you through the process of how you can get a free smartphone to stay connected with your friends and relatives online as well as via voice and texting.
Many households in the United States are living below one dollar a day. Therefore, they find it hard to purchase phones as well as plans from various carriers. Things got even worse when the Covid’19 pandemic broke out in the world. Many people lost their jobs as companies reduced the number of workers while others closed down. People had to go home and struggle with life in the best way possible.
The only problem with Lifeline, as we shall see, is that it only assists a single person per household. If you are five in your household, any of you can apply for the benefit, and others can rely on that person to enjoy communicating with others. That turns out to be disadvantageous since the offer is usually limited to benefit many people in a household.
What is Lifeline?
The Lifeline program is a USA government initiative to help the less fortunate Americans to access communication services. Through the Federal Communications Commission, the federal government can give needy people free phones and discounts on qualifying monthly telephone services, bundled voice-broadband packages, or broadband Internet services purchased from participating providers.
Usually, beneficiaries have to recertify every year with their service providers to remain eligible. However, through the Federal Communications Commission, the government temporarily removed the need to recertify every year, general de-enrollment, income documentation, and the documentation requirements for beneficiaries residing in rural areas on tribal lands during this time of Covid’19.
Furthermore, the FCC made it very easy to qualify for the service when it temporarily waived the requirement that people seeking to qualify for the Lifeline program based on their income have to provide at least three consecutive months of income documentation. That made it easy to get a free government smartphone.
How does the Lifeline program work?
The Lifeline operations are straightforward in that they are easy to understand. You can get up to a $9.25 monthly discount on communication services and up to $34.25 per month for those qualifying on Tribal lands. As a subscriber, you may receive a discount for your Lifeline on either a wireline or a wireless service.
It is important to understand that one cannot simultaneously receive a discount on both services. Lifeline also helps eligible consumers to get broadband internet service as well as broadband-voice bundles. As I mentioned earlier, only one person per household can benefit from the program. That is a strict rule from the FCC.
Again, the program is available to eligible low-income consumers in all states, territories, commonwealth, and Tribal lands. The Lifeline program administration is carried out by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
Eligibility requirements of Lifeline
For you to become a lifeline beneficiary, you have to meet the qualification requirements. The following are the program requirements.
- You must have a total income that is at 135% or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Participate in any government assistance programs, such as the Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or particular Tribal Programs.
You can know that you are eligible for the Lifeline program by checking eligibility at the National Verifier for Lifeline Eligibility. The National Verifier is a centralized system created by the FCC and governed by USAC that verifies Lifeline eligibility for all applicants. It also recertifies subscriber eligibility every year.
Once you find out that you are eligible for the program, you can use the Companies Near Me tool to choose your carrier and get started. However, states such as Texas and Oregon only allow you to apply for the program through the state’s provided avenue and not via the national platform.
To start your application, you can visit the National Verifier, hit on the relevant state from the drop-down menu, and press “Get Started.” Alternatively, you can visit any of the participating Lifeline service providers and get started with your application.
Can Lifeline consumers apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefits Program (EBB)?
It is possible to apply for the EBB program even when you are a Lifeline consumer and get a free government phone with a free tablet. The EBB program allows you to get a certain amount of money to buy a tablet or computer from your service provider. With the government phone from Lifeline, you will have two free government devices.
What is the Emergency Broadband Benefits Program (EBB)?
You may be wondering what the EBB is. If you are hearing about the program for the first time, you must be missing a lot. The EBB problem started when Covid’19 broke out in the world. It was a creation of the congress to help people seriously affected by Covid’19. Congress gave $3.2 billion to the FCC to help low-income households pay for broadband service and internet devices.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program gives discounts of up to $50 every month for broadband services to eligible consumers. Again, consumers who live on qualifying Tribal lands can get enhanced support of up to $75 per month for broadband services.
Furthermore, the program provides a one-time discount of up to $100 for devices such as laptops, desktop computers, or tablets that a beneficiary purchases through a participating service provider. To get the one-time discount, you must contribute more than $10 and, at most, $50. That way, you can easily acquire a free tablet EBB to use with your broadband.
You can qualify for the EBB program in the following ways.
- If you have income below or at 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- If you participate in federal aid programs such as;
- Food stamps
- Bureau of Indian affairs
- General Assistance
- Tribally administered temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Tribal Head Start
- Federal public housing Assistance
- Veterans Pension and survivor’s benefit Supplement Security income.
- If you meet your service provider’s eligibility requirements.
- You received a Federal Pell grant.
- If you experienced a big loss of income
When will EBB end?
The Emergency Broadband Benefits Program is temporary, meaning that it will end. However, the exact date is unknown. According to the government, the program will expire when funds are exhausted or six months after the concerned Department of Health and Human Services declares the end of the COVID-19 pandemic health emergency.
Which service providers offer Lifeline services?
The federal government contracts various service providers to offer Lifeline services, whereby every service provider tailors the discount offers to match the general government discount. They include the following.
1) Access Wireless
Access Wireless gives you free 100 voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data for the Lifeline program. The carrier operates on the Sprint network. The service provider supports Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP).
2) Assurance Wireless
Access Wireless also gives you free 100 voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data for the Lifeline program. Assurance Wireless uses the Sprint network. If you enroll in the EBB program, you will get an Assurance wireless free tablet.
3) Assist Wireless
You can get 500 voice minutes and 500 texts to use for your Lifeline. The carrier relies on Sprint and T-Mobile networks. You can purchase additional voice call minutes, texts, and data ranging from $1-$40 per month if you exhaust your allowance.
4) Blue Jay Wireless
If you use Lifeline with Blue Jay Wireless, you will be able to get 250-unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data. You can pay extra money for more data and voice call minutes. The network relies on Sprint and Verizon networks. The provider offers you an option to upgrade your phone.
5) Budget Mobile
As a Lifeline user, you can get 500 voice minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of data. The network relies on Verizon cellular towers. You can get a free smartphone in some states.
6) Cintex Wireless
You can get 500 voice minutes and unlimited texts for your communication needs. The carrier uses the T-Mobile network. You can get a free smartphone and purchase data for $5 for 200MB or even $10 for 500MB.
7) C Spire Wireless
C Spire Wireless gives you a $9.25 monthly credit for your communication needs. The credit only applies to postpaid calling plans.
8) Easy Wireless
You will get between 250-1,000 voice minutes, 250-1,000 texts, and 25-500MB data. The carrier uses the Sprint network to run its operations. Again, the carrier will give you data option add-ons if data is not included.
9) enTouch Wireless
You will be getting 100 unlimited voice minutes, 100 unlimited texts, and 10MB-750MB Data. You will receive a strong connection for your telecommunications services since the carrier uses Sprint. And you can purchase additional services when the need arises.
10) Life Wireless
Once you enroll for the Lifeline program with Life Wireless, you will be able to get 1,250 to unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 250-500MB data to use for your day-to-day communication needs. The service provider offers three different plans. Again, the company treats MMS & SMS as different allocations.
Other Lifeline service providers include GCI Wireless, SafeLink Wireless, StandUP Wireless, Tag Mobile, Tempo, Terracom Wireless, TruConnect, True Wireless, US Connect Mobile, MyLifelineJobs.com, and Q Link Wireless. QLink gives you excellent services, including Qlink wireless free tablet, and between 68-500 minutes.
Can I upgrade my Lifeline free phone?
You can upgrade your device to get a better one to use for your communication services. However, unlike during application time when you get a phone for free, you have to pay for an upgrade.
One may want to upgrade to get better connection speeds, larger storage space, high-resolution cameras, and large capacity batteries, among other reasons.
What are the restrictions of the Lifeline program?
Various restrictions accompany the Lifeline service. They include the following.
- You cannot transfer the Lifeline service to someone else since the government requires you as the beneficiary to continue benefiting from the service. However, you can transfer your account from one service provider to another.
- You must recertify your eligibility every year with your carrier, or else you lose your account.
- Only one person per household can benefit from the service.
- You can only have one Lifeline account with only one service provider.
How do I change my Lifeline service provider?
Just as I have mentioned above, you can easily change your service provider if you do not like the services of your current carrier. The program allows you to change your service provider every three months. You can change your carrier in the following manner.
- Contact the service provider and request for the transfer.
- Wait for the response of the service provider.
- You will be disconnected from the Lifeline service of the current provider.
- After that, log into the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and select “Transfer NLAD Benefit,” then enter your information and “transfer benefit.”
- Confirm your transfer.
There are a few reasons why one may want to change their Lifeline service provider. They include the following.
i) Poor customer service
If your current service provider has poor customer service, then you may want to change your service provider to a more reliable one. Sometimes you may want to upgrade your phone but fail to get the necessary assistance from your carrier. Therefore, there is no essence of sticking to such a service provider.
ii) Poor network connection
If your current service provider has a poor network connection, then you have every right to move your account to another reliable service provider.
You can get a free government smartphone when you join the Lifeline program. Lifeline is a program that assists low-income households with cheap communication plans as well as free phones. You must meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for the program.
You can transfer your Lifeline account from one service provider to the other. Currently, we have the EBB program that assists households affected by Covid’19.