The Lifeline and Link-ups programs are government-funded programs that help provide low-income families free cell phones in Tennessee.With help from the Federal Universal Service Fund, the intent is to provide phone service at a discounted price for-low income individuals and families.  Initially this program was for LAN lines at home, now these programs apply to cell phones. Each state has an option on relying on the Federal program or following its own program. States following the Government programs will have to follow the Federal eligibility rules.

Each service provider is required to contribute to the Universal service fund; this contribution is based on the percentage of their revenues.

This program is provided by SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless. These cell phones are provided to qualified Tennessee residents.  So how do you qualify for the free government cell phone program?

The Lifeline/Link-up program is for low income individuals, who have a tough time paying their phone bills. Tennessee residents that participate in any of the following assistance programs by the government are eligible for the Lifeline program.

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Food Stamps
  • Temporary assistance for needy families
  • Low Income High Energy Assistance Program
  • National Free School Lunch
  • Live in Section 8 Federal Housing
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)

If any individual does not participate in the above programs and his/her household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, will also be eligible for the free cell phone program. If anybody is interested in the free cell phone program, one has to visit the Safe link Wireless or Assurance Wireless webpage and fill the online form. One of the main requirements also is to provide with a correct and valid home address to the service provider. It is at this address, the free phone will be shipped, and the same address will be used to complete the annual recertification requirement. It takes few weeks for the application to be processed.

The main purpose of this program is to provide quality services at affordable rates to residents in low-income groups and to  increase the access to telecommunication services throughout the country. The support program provides discounts that make telephone service affordable to low individuals.


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