Monday, January 25, 2010

How is Safelink Wireless Working For You?

As we've written before, Safelink Wireless is providing free cell phones and free minutes to lower-income people who qualify for the federal Lifeline program. How many phones? According to data from the nonprofit that distributes federal funds to participating carriers, in September 2009, they received $23,285,172 in reimbursements for phones they've distributed. Assuming the maximum per-customer contribution is $10/customer, that means there are about 2.3 million people in the U.S. who are taking advantage of this option. This is a huge number, about 27% of the $87 million distributed via the Lifeline program in that month. (See the table below for state-by-state data).

A lot of people have posted about their experiences with Safelink, but here's a formal, open question for everyone who has a Safelink phone or has tried to get a phone from them: how do you like Safelink? Is it working for you? Was it easy to get? Have you had any problems with the phone or service? Do you find that you're routinely buying more minutes from Tracfone (Safelink's parent) when you run out of the free minutes?

Not a scientific sampling, but it would help to know what your experiences are as we think about recommendations to Community Voice Mail clients about these services. Please post your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!

Sales of Safelink phones through September 2009:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On the Radio: CVM Staff Member Talks About Haiti

Kathy McAllister, one of our co-workers here at the Community Voice Mail National Office, lived in Haiti for four years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and since then has been involved in several efforts to improve the living situation in the country. When the earthquake hit last week, her husband was in Port-au-Prince, and spent five hours trapped in the rubble of a large building. He escaped with minor injuries, and is now trying to make his way back to the U.S..

Today on KUOW (Seattle NPR station), Kathy tells this story, discusses her ongoing efforts to locate friends and family in Haiti, and talks about the work her nonprofit (Haitian Sustainable Development Foundation) and others are doing in the country. Give it a listen, and then give, give and give.

Photo courtesy Haitian Sustainable Development Foundation