Free Phone Program to Give Internet Smartphones to the Poor

The popular Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program will be expanding to provide internet-capable smartphones and mobile broadband plans to low-income Americans by 2014, according to new research by


Lake Forest, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/10/2013 -- The FCC’s Lifeline Assistance program, which has generously provided free cell phones to an estimated 15- 20 million struggling Americans over the past five years, is about to change in a big way.

After reviewing public records of the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), analysts Mark Henry and Jim Bismark have concluded that the Lifeline Assistance (free government cell phone) program will soon begin to provide internet-enabled smartphones and mobile internet plans to low-income Americans. By as early as 2014, what is now called the Lifeline phone program will for all intents and purposes become the Lifeline Internet phone program.

Eligibility requirements for the program will remain exactly as they are for the current cell phone program. “The same people who qualify for free cell phones under Lifeline Assistance will qualify for the new, internet-enabled smartphones,” Henry explained. “This includes households whose incomes are less than between 135-150% of the poverty level and families that participate in at least one government aid program such as Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, SSI, housing or energy assistance and others.”

Early last year the FCC formally announced their intent to transition Lifeline from cheap cell phones to internet-capable smartphones. Things are progressing quickly, and at this very moment two of the leading providers of Lifeline free cell phones --Tracfone (Safelink Wireless) and Nexus (ReachOut Wireless) -- are in pilot programs where they are delivering smartphones and internet plans to lucky Americans in twelve states. The details of the pilot study are available in this report by

There is no word on what the final cost, if any, will be to recipients. But Henry believes that the program will follow the model of the cell phone program: a free smartphone and basic data plan, with low-cost upgrades for higher speed and data usage. Henry added, “Even if they decide to charge $10 a month for a basic plan, it’s considerably less expensive than what others pay and they get a smartphone, such as an Android, at no cost.”

Henry and Bismark are confident that 2014 will be the year in which Lifeline Internet becomes available to the tens of millions of unconnected, low-income Americans who simply could use help getting what has become a necessity in the modern world.
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