TRENTON–TracFone Wireless, Inc. recently announced its launch of SafeLink Wireless® in New Jersey. SafeLink Wireless is the first and only completely free offering of Lifeline – a U.S. government supported program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for eligible low-income households.
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.
“Over 590,000 households in New Jersey qualify for the Lifeline services – offering these participants the opportunity to have the same access and privileges many individuals take for granted when it comes to using cell phones,” said Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone.
“The SafeLink Wireless service is truly unique because we are providing a service that no other company has made available before – a free cell phone and free monthly minutes to qualifying low income families,” added Fuentes.
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 Sept. 11. 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 to promote safety of life and property.
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.
To learn more about the SafeLink Wireless service, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-SAFELINK (1-800-723-3546), or visit www.safelink.com.
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