TracFone Wireless has launched a government-supported program to provide free mobile telephone service to low income households throughout Pennsylvania. Individuals qualifying for TracFone’s SafeLink Wireless service will receive a free cell phone, emergency mobile access and 68 minutes of air time monthly for one year. The service is currently being tested in Philadelphia and Delaware counties.
SafeLink is provided in part by Lifeline, a program founded by the FCC that provides discounts to qualified individuals for landline and cell phone service plans. Although government administered, the program is not funded by federal tax dollars. Contributions are paid by telecom carriers that collect a Universal Service Charge from all cell phone customers. SafeLink applies the subsidy to free wireless minutes for customers and pays for mobile handsets itself.
The service will be available to more than 260,000 eligible participants in Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Berks and Bucks counties have not responded to repeated requests for emergency compliance as mandated by the FCC. Although Montgomery and Chester counties are compliant, there has not been an announcement of immediate availability in those counties. [via philabustr]
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