TracFone Wireless Launches SafeLink Wireless to Aid Nearly 585,000 Low-Income Households in Pennsylvania
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Participants Receive Over an Hour of Free Talk Time Monthly and Free Wireless Cell Phone PHILADELPHIA--(Business Wire)-- Today, TracFone Wireless, Inc., America`s leading prepaid cell phone provider, announced its launch of SafeLink Wireless in most of Pennsylvania. 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 68 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 half a million households in Pennsylvania 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. 18 Pennsylvania counties will not immediately benefit As a condition to participate in the offering of Lifeline, the FCC mandated that SafeLink be certified E9-1-1 compliant by each 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) within the state of Pennsylvania. PSAPs in the following 18 cities or counties have not responded to repeated requests for certification: City of Allentown, Armstrong County, Berks County, Blair County, Bucks County, Carbon County, the city of Bethlehem, Dauphin County, Huntingdon County, Indiana County, Lancaster County, Lawrence County, Lehigh County, North Humberland County, Snyder County, Sullivan County, Susquehanna County, and Warren County. Delaware and Philadelphia Counties are currently testing phones. "The citizens of the 18 Pennsylvania counties where SafeLink Wireless is not yet present is an unacceptable situation, as it is denying hard working, struggling families the basic right to communicate," said Fuentes. "The Lifeline program at its core was created to benefit the very rural families that are being denied that service, which makes the refusal to provide E911 certification fundamentally wrong and irresponsible from an entity that is truly supposed to be a lifeline for all people in times of emergency and crisis." SAFELINK WIRELESS SERVICE ELIGIBILITY OVERVIEW BY CITY Top Pennsylvania state counties or cities with the most eligible Lifeline participants: CITY LOW-INCOME POPULATION Philadelphia 221,870 Allegheny 147,648 Montgomery 40,324 Delaware 39,873 Luzerne 39,535 Westmoreland 37,851 Bucks 36,251 Lancaster 32,899 York 32,823 Berks 31,888 Erie 31,809 Lehigh 28,854 Lackawanna 27,555 Dauphin 24,336 Fayette 24,197 Chester 23,001 Northampton 21,508 Washington 20,225 Program Eligibility Lifeline program eligibility in the state of Pennsylvania consists of the following: * General Assistance (GA) * Supplemental Security Income (SSI) * Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) * Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) * Federal Public Housing Assistance * Medicaid * Food Stamps, or the National School Lunch Program`s Free Lunch Program The SafeLink Wireless service will be provided to low-income families for up to one year. 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. Unused minutes will never expire and will automatically rollover. When recipients surpass their allocated 68 airtime minutes, they will be able to purchase prepaid SafeLink Wireless airtime cards or TracFone airtime cards, including double minute cards. 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. To learn more about the SafeLink Wireless service, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-977-3768, or visit www.safelinkwireless.com. ABOUT TRACFONE WIRELESS, INC. TracFone Wireless, Inc. is America's number one prepaid wireless service in the U.S. with more than 10 million cell phone subscribers. TracFone is a subsidiary of América Móvil, S.A.B. de C.V. ("AMX") (BMV: AMX) (NYSE: AMX) (Nasdaq: AMOV) (LATIBEX: XAMXL), the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America with more than 153 million cell phone subscribers. For more information, please visit: www.tracfone.com. for SafeLink Wireless Cecilia Santana, 646-326-7956 firstname.lastname@example.org or Rolando Rodriguez, 210-316-0744 email@example.com Copyright Business Wire 2009