What Is Safelink?
In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instituted a program to allow low-income citizens the opportunity to get low cost phone service so they could have phone service in their homes in case of an emergency. Twelve years later, that program was expanded under the direction of Congress when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed. This program has been commonly referred to as Lifeline.
Most recently, a newer program, called Safelink has been made available by the TracFone Wireless company, which gives low income families across the nation free cell phones, service and a minimal amount of minutes at no cost to taxpayers. TracFone Wireless itself pays for the devices and service fees while the charge for the minimum minutes offered through the program are subsidized by the already in place Lifeline Project. Users are not eligible for both programs, but must choose which one best fits tier current needs.
With the rise of unemployment in recent months, the Safelink program swelled to over 2 million users in 2009, with more expected to join its ranks in 2010 and beyond. Available in 31 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, the program expects to add more states in the coming months.
Although more than 1,700 phone providers offer discounted services to low-income users, TracFone Wireless remains the leader in the industry through their marketing efforts within the Safelink Program.
Although the qualifications for joining the program vary from state-to-state, with different states offering different service levels under the program, those who already receive public assistance, food stamps, free school lunches, SSI, WIC and more generally qualify for the program and should seek assistance at the Safelink website at www.safelinkwireless.com to apply for this unique free service.
Offering all of the normal benefits of cell phone use like email, texting, voice mail and more, Safelink offers even low-income users the chance to have the phone access they may need for work and family. Costing taxpayers nothing, the program nevertheless continues to come under scrutiny as it is billed by critics as just another “free benefit being paid for by the government.” Nothing could be further form the truth, claim advocates, who insist the cost of the program is being carried by TracFone wireless and already in place subsidy program that has serviced the community for more than 25 years.
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