mentioned in June, low-income people in ten states and the District of Columbia may soon be able to get free mobile phones + minutes through SafeLink Wireless, a spin-off of TracFone Wireless that is authorized to make free phones available to this population using money from the Universal Service Fund (via the Lifeline program). Clients who qualify will receive a free phone and 68-80 minutes of free service each month, for as long as they're eligible for the program.
This program is now available in four states: Florida, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Virginia, with more to come, including New York, Pennsylvania, N. Carolina and D.C. (states with CVM programs). Eligibility varies from state to state, but in general, if you're already receiving assistance from a State or Federal assistance program like Food Stamps, Medicaid or Federal Public Housing Assistance, and you meet certain income requirements, this program is for you. See the faq for more information for each state.
We're encouraging our clients in these states to take advantage of this program, and want to work with TracFone to market and distribute phones to eligible CVM users. Using Lifeline funds to get lower-cost landlines doesn't make sense for every individual; more and more people (even low-income people, and a lot of CVM clients) want wireless. A good idea, and we hope it's successful so other carriers will follow suit.