The SafeLink Wireless service will provide eligible low-income households a free cell phone, mobile access to emergency services and free 68 minutes of airtime, monthly, for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, call waiting, international calling to over 60 destinations and caller ID.
To learn more about SafeLink Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-977-3768 or visit safelinkwireless.com.TracFone also offers free low-income services in TN. In February 2009, SafeLink began offering free cell phones to low-income households in Georgia. They began offering free cell phones for low-income households in Florida in 2008.
“As a part of everyday life, many of us take cell phones for granted but they are a vital method of communicating with the world around us,” said Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone. “For the over 1.3 million households that qualify for Lifeline services in Ohio, SafeLink provides a modern necessity that could help them secure employment, communicate with their child-care provider, reach hospitals, fire departments, or police in the event of an emergency and they would receive that help at absolutely no cost. No other company is doing that,” added Fuentes. SafeLink Wireless offers low-income families accessibility, freedom and the security in knowing that should an emergency occur - wherever they are, they will stay safe and stay connected.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Lifeline program in 1984 and worked to update the service after the crises of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the tragedy of September 11th. At the dawn of the 21st century, modern universal telephone service is necessary not only to ensure that the U.S. maintains a rapid, efficient, nationwide communications network, it is important for the purpose of national defense and to promote safety of life and property. By approving the SafeLink Wireless program, the FCC took action to enhance its Lifeline program and keep the right to communicate in pace with technology.
As technology continues to evolve, the digital divide remains a serious concern that may leave few options for those who lack the financial means to afford any sort of telephone service. The SafeLink program works to fulfill Lifeline’s original goal to bridge this gap and to disprove the notion that access to wireless communications is a privilege or luxury.
The Funding and Delivery of Lifeline
Lifeline is part of the Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. Over 1700 carriers are eligible to provide the program but TracFone is the first pre-paid company to have elevated the program to modern day communications. The Lifeline program is not funded from federal taxpayer dollars, but rather from contributions to the USF by telecommunications carriers collected in part from the Universal Service Charge billed to cell phone users.
By FCC design, telephone carriers deliver Lifeline assistance to low-income communities and traditionally, Lifeline customers receive a simple discount on their monthly landline telephone bill. The SafeLink program reshapes the Lifeline model by applying the USF subsidy towards a wireless minute allocation that becomes free monthly airtime for the customer. As TracFone provides the mobile handset at its own expense and does not require contracts or monthly bills, SafeLink customers now have access to a completely free offering of the Lifeline program.
If a customer wishes to use additional minutes beyond their monthly allotment, minutes can be added through prepaid SafeLink airtime cards and TracFone airtime cards that can be purchased at local retailers. The prepaid feature gives customers the freedom to control the cost of their monthly telephone expense. Unused minutes do not expire and automatically rollover.
SAFELINK WIRELESS® SERVICE ELIGIBILITY OVERVIEW BY CITY
Top 10 Ohio state counties with the most eligible Lifeline participants:
To qualify for Lifeline in the state of Ohio, a household must participate in one of the following:
Applicants applying via income must prove by sending a copy of a document that proves subscriber income level. The following are examples of documents that are accepted:
The SafeLink Wireless service will be provided to low-income families for up to one year, with one person per household receiving the free cell phone and benefits. Participants may renew service and will be required to re-submit eligibility documentation upon their year completion. If the participant no longer qualifies for this free service, they will be notified and will be able to keep the cell phone to continue enjoying the benefits as a regular TracFone customer. Existing TracFone customers qualifying for the SafeLink Wireless service may keep their current cell phone, and receive bonus minutes (one-time bonus only) for choosing to keep their current cell phone.