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January 05, 2011

Assurance Wireless to Aid Connecticut Residents Facing Economic Hardship with Free Cell Phone and Wireless Service

More than 107,000 residents eligible to receive Assurance Wireless

WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), January 05, 2011 - Today, Assurance Wireless, a cell phone service from Virgin Mobile that provides a free wireless phone and 250 free minutes of wireless voice service monthly to eligible customers, launches in Connecticut.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported1 that the percentage of Americans living in poverty increased by 14.3 percent in 2009 -- the highest rate of poverty in 15 years. An additional 4 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 44 million.

More than 172,000 Connecticut residents are currently without a job and more than 9.4 percent are living below the federal poverty line. Assurance Wireless gives eligible customers the ability to provide a contact number and return calls to a prospective employer, which, studies show, can improve the chances of securing employment as well as provide a simple way to stay connected to family in case of emergencies.

“With unemployment in Connecticut at 6.3 percent, people need to be connected if for no other reason than to be able to apply for and obtain a new job,” said Grace Boehm, director for Assurance Wireless.

According to a recent nationwide survey from Assurance Wireless*, adults with an income of less than $25,000 are as likely to use their mobile phone for employment searches as those with higher incomes.

“With the current state of the economy, it’s important for those struggling financially to have access to resources that will help them recover as quickly as possible. We are proud to support the launch of Assurance Wireless, which is providing an invaluable tool to Connecticut residents who need a way to stay within their budgets, while staying connected to potential job opportunities,” stated Connecticut State Senator Edith Prague.

"At this point, cell phones are not a luxury. They are doorways to opportunity; they provide safety and security; they strengthen interpersonal connection,” said Donna Berman, Executive Director of the Charter Oak Cultural Center. “I am grateful to Assurance for providing cell phones to low-income people in Connecticut."

Assurance Wireless has also introduced more choices to give its customers the opportunity to pay to add voice minutes and text messaging to their free wireless service. The core offer remains the same: 250 minutes of free talk time, a free phone with the ability to buy additional minutes or texts at 10 cents each. The $5 Talk offer increases the amount of minutes available each month to 500; the $20 Talk & Text offer increases the minutes to 1,000 and adds 1,000 text messages. The new offers include a Service Protector feature which ensures that the basic 250 free minutes are guaranteed each month a customer is eligible, even if a customer cannot pay the additional dollars during a particular month. These new offers are available to all Assurance Wireless subscribers.

In addition to voice mail2 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the free 250 voice minutes, customers can pay for additional 10-cent-per-minute domestic calling, 10-cent text, e-mail or instant messages, international calling at competitive rates, and more.3

Customers eligible for Assurance Wireless include those who participate in Medicaid (Title 19), Food Stamps/SNAP, State Administered General Assistance Program, Section 8 Housing, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Child Care Certification, State Supplement to the Aged, Blind or Disabled, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, Energy Assistance Program, State Appropriated Fuel Assistance Program, Refugee Program, Personal Care Assistance Program, Rental Assistance Program, Eligible Individual living on Native American Tribal Lands, Transition Child Care or ConnPACE.

Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or visiting www.assurancewireless.com.

Assurance Wireless is currently also available in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and West Virginia.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 48.8 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, Common Cents Mobile and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

About Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless, one of Sprint’s prepaid brands, is supported by the Lifeline Assistance program, part of the Low Income Program of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), and designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at reasonable and affordable rates. Assurance Wireless uses the Nationwide Sprint Network, which reaches more than 275 million people.

To learn more about Assurance Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call (toll-free) 800-395-2171 or visit www.assurancewireless.com. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Please follow Assurance news on Twitter www.twitter.com/assurancecell, YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/assurancewireless, or Facebook www.facebook.com/assurancecell.

Note: sources for all information and statistics are available upon request
*PKS Research Partners was commissioned by Sprint/Nextel (Assurance Wireless) to conduct a research project among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults 25 years or older in order to determine their attitudes toward and usage of mobile phones.

1 http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p60-238.pdf
2 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.
3 When purchasing additional minutes or features, standard taxes and surcharges will apply.

Contact(s):

Assurance Wireless
Jack Pflanz, 315-374-0693
Jack.Pflanz@Sprint.com


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