MASSACHUSETTS – Today, TracFone Wireless, Inc., America’s leading prepaid cell phone provider announced its launch of SafeLink Wireless in Massachusetts. SafeLink Wireless will serve as the company’s distribution of Lifeline – a U.S. government supported program for income eligible households 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 80 minutes of air time, monthly, for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, call waiting, international calling to over 60 destinations and caller ID.

«More than 424,000 households in Massachusetts 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. 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 Ike, 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.

The Funding 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. 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. Instead of a discount on the user’s monthly bill, SafeLink applies the USF subsidy to free wireless minutes. Although a common misconception, TracFone provides the free wireless cell phone to the SafeLink program at the company’s expense, in order to make the program viable and attractive.

SAFELINK WIRELESS SERVICE ELIGIBILITY OVERVIEW BY CITY

Top 10 Massachusetts state counties with the most eligible Lifeline participants:
CITY/LOW-INCOME POPULATION
Middlesex/ 87,875
Suffolk/ 81,944
Worester/ 62,375
Essex/ 57,799
Bristol/ 55,397
Hampden/ 54,253
Norfolk/ 36,025
Plymouth/ 28,105
Barnstable/ 16,268
Berkshire/ 15,416

Program Eligibility
Lifeline program eligibility in the state of Massachusetts consists of the following:
o Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
o Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disab

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