For decades, the government has come up with various welfare programs to help those in lower income strata. Programs such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Housing assistance have all significantly improved the quality of life of people living before the poverty line. A recent addition to these social programs is the Lifeline Access program, or better known as the free cell phone program.
This is a social program that seeks to ensure everyone has access to mobile phone services. The program involves much more than dishing out of free touch screen government phones. Below is a detailed description of the program, and some of the best free government cell phones available in it.
The Lifeline Phone Program
You may have heard of phone companies issuing free government phones. Well, it is no hoax. This all part of the Lifeline Access Program. It is a program that aims to aid individuals in low-income levels to access phone services.
You may ask whether a phone is that important a gadget to warrant the issuing of free touchscreen government phones. Well, the answer is yes. We live in an age where communication is the key to every opportunity. We need mobile phones to keep up with current affairs, receive messages from utility companies, get information on job opportunities and even access emergency services. The inability to access phone services automatically denies you the opportunity to engage in all the above activities, which are the definition of current living standards. This brought the necessity of providing free government smartphones.
The program was actually kicked off in 1985. It offered subsidized cost for landline services. It was not until 2012 when cell phones were added to the program. This is because landlines are no longer relevant in the current world, as opposed to cell phones which have become a necessity. Cell phones also provide cheap internet connection which is a necessity in this age. That’s why the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) incorporated free government phones into the program.
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Who Qualifies To Get Free Touch Screen Government Phones?
The program is under the management of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This is a body in charge of collecting data and determining economic and income levels that should be deemed as needy. The body, therefore, comes up with guidelines that are used to determine who is needy enough to deserve free government smartphones.
The criterion often focuses on income level. Anyone whose income is either at or below 135% of the Federal poverty guidelines index qualifies for the program. The cut-offs are different for different states, and even towns. So make sure to check up if you truly are eligible. Those already enrolled in various welfare programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid will most likely qualify for this program.
How To Get Free Touch Screen Government Phones
The first step is confirming whether you actually qualify for the program. After that, you need to identify a company providing free government phones.
There are a lot of mobile companies working with FCC under the Lifeline Access program to provide free cell phone services. However, very few of these companies offer touch screen phones or even smartphones in general. You, therefore, have to identify a company that offers decent phones.
Free Government Phones Package
While making the selection, bear in mind that the free phone is just one aspect of the deal. The free minutes’ talk time, text messages and broadband data hold equal weight, or even more, compared to the phone you are given. Therefore take time to review and compare the different packages, alongside the phones they come with. The network coverage of the company and signal strength is another factor to consider. A fancy iPhone won’t do you any good if it can’t even make a call.
Free Touch Screen Government Phones Companies Offer
When it comes to phone options, most of these companies offer basic feature phones. These are phones that can simply make a call, send texts, and complete a few extra tasks. They have features such as clocks and alarms, calculators, reminders, and schedules. Despite being basic, the phones are often new, and of decent quality.
For those that offer free government smartphones, they are often not the best of smartphones. In most cases, these free government phones are refurbished phones and most likely older models. You can get a refurbished iPhone 5 in the program, or an Android equivalent of it.
There are, however, few companies that offer users the opportunity to get new free government phones. This is by :
- Providing smartphones as an option in the list of free phones
- Giving users the option to upgrade their phone to a smartphone at a small fee
- Allowing users to purchase a phone of their choice and bring it to the program
The second option is more common. It often involves payment of an amount between $20-50 in order to get free touchscreen government phones.
Free Touch Screen Government Phones Companies
#1 Reachout Wireless
Reachout wireless is one of the mobile companies that is fast gaining popularity in the free cell service niche. Its selection of free touchscreen government phones makes it a top contender for users seeking to get the best free government smartphones. The company offers an array of smartphones: Samsung A850, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Motorola Droid 2, and iPhone 4. All these phones are not the latest models of these brands, but they still work pretty well. The company offers these devices to users in over 20 states in which the company covers. For those already have old free government touch screen phones, Reachout wireless offers them an opportunity to upgrade to these newer refurbished phones for a small fee. This makes it possible for anyone to get a smartphone on this government program.
#2 Q Link Wireless
Q link wireless another company that offers its users the opportunity to fully appreciate the features of a smartphone in this free cell service plan. The company often ships smartphones and makes them available to users as free government phones. Users on the program who have basic phones are also given the option to upgrade to modern smartphones once the shipments get in. The best part about this company is that it allows users to use their free mobile data for wifi hotspot services. All users who have hotspot enabled phones can use their monthly broadband data to create a wifi hotspot. They additionally offer data plans at a cheaper price for users who have exhausted their monthly limit. This is as close as it gets to an unlimited wifi hotspot plan while on a free government cell program.
#3 Access wireless
Access Wireless is a top player in the free cell service industry. it is one of the few companies that were established to exclusively offer free government cell phone service. Access Wireless offers free government phones to those who wish to get one when enrolling in the program. Some examples of brands they offer include ZTE, Motorola, Samsung, and Alcatel among others. They are among the few companies that offer free touch screen government phones as the first gadget issued to those enrolling. They additionally offer these phones as upgrades to users with basic phones. Access Wireless services are available in over 30 states nationally. You can look up their site to see if you can get their service in your locality.
#4 Safelink Wireless
Safelink Wireless company with the highest share of the free cell service market. It serves over 4 million people on this program. It is therefore only fair that the company offers free touchscreen government phones to its large clientele. However, the company only provides free government touch screen cell phones to residents of California. Anyone who applies for Safelink wireless free cell phone packages with a California address is eligible to get a smartphone as his/her primary device. For those in the other states, this is not available. It is a rather discriminatory policy that has locked out millions from getting free government touch screen cell phones.
This is a small network company that offers regional service. The company was initially known as Telescape or Surelink. It covers the states of California, Texas, Nevada, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. The company offers free touchscreen government phones as their primary gadget. They additionally have amazing offers for users living in California and Texas. Truconnect subscribers get to enjoy unlimited talk time and unlimited texts for the month.
#6 Assurance Wireless
This is another big player in this niche of free cell service. Assurance wireless is a branch of Virgin mobile that was formed to serve the free cell phone government program. It is one of the companies in this program with the widest national network coverage. The company, despite trying, does not match up to its reputation when it comes to the offering of free touchscreen government phones. It only offers these phones to the residents of California. The remaining of the country is denied the opportunity to get a smartphone as their primary gadget.
In general, each company offers a select group of free government phones in their programs. Most companies won’t avail these phones as the primary gadget, but rather as an upgrade that users pay to receive.
FAQ’s About Free Government Phones
Is There Any Fee That One Needs To Pay To Receive The Free Government Phones?
There is no direct answer to this. Some companies will give you a smartphone for free, while others will charge you some fee for it. If you look at the agreement between the FCC and companies offering free cell service in the Lifeline program, the company is legally required to provide a free phone. However, it does not specify whether it has to be a smartphone, a feature phone or a basic phone. So anything that can call and send texts meets these requirements. Therefore, most companies prefer not to incur the extra cost of providing users with free touch screen government phones. For those that do, it is up to them to give them out freely, or at a fee.
Can You Buy a Smartphone Of Your Choice and Use It To Enrol In The Program?
Sadly, most companies do not allow this. You will most likely be required to take up the free provided device in your free cell phone package. This may be because some of the plans limit data use, which may be inconvenient on high-end smartphones. Some companies, however, give allowance to users to enrol with their handsets to the program.
Do You Get a Replacement If Your Phone Gets Damaged or Lost?
For most companies, the user will have to bear the cost in case of such an event. The network companies are willing to incur a one-time expense of providing the phone. Maintenance and replacement costs are shouldered by the users.
Can You Switch Different Companies To Get a Smartphone?
Recently, the terms of the Lifeline Access program were reviewed to give users the option to switch companies. This, however, does not guarantee that you will receive a smartphone. There are a lot of rules that govern switching providers, some of which may hinder you from getting a new phone. These regulations were put in place to prevent users from exploiting this loophole to get multiple cell phones from multiple companies.
It is possible to get free touch screen government phones in the Lifeline Assistance program. However, need to do thorough research on all the various companies providing free government cell phone service and the phones they offer. Read between the lines of the terms of different packages, as these often contain information about the packages that will either make or break it. In case you are willing to part with some cash, you can easily find a program that allows you to start with a smartphone at a fee.