Program can help more than 870,000 Massachusetts residents stay connected to family, medical services and jobs
WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), September 25, 2012 - Assurance Wireless, which provides eligible residents a free cell phone, 250 free minutes of wireless voice service and 250 free text messages monthly with no contract, marks its one-year anniversary of providing services to Massachusetts residents. Assurance Wireless is a Lifeline Assistance program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund and now offers the best value in calling plans among major Lifeline Assistance programs.1
More than 210,000 Massachusetts residents are without a job and more than 19 percent are living below the federal poverty line. Assurance Wireless customers enjoy the ability to provide a contact number to and receive calls from a prospective employer, which, studies show, can improve the chances of securing employment.
“We look forward to continuing to provide this service to eligible Massachusetts residents who need support and resources during what continues to be a rough economic time for many,” said Grace Boehm, director-Strategy and Business Planning, Assurance Wireless.
“I was unemployed for an extended amount of time because of layoffs,” stated Evan M., 38, an Assurance Wireless customer. “The phone and service I received from Assurance Wireless were invaluable to my finding new employment and to my efforts to recover from this recession. It allowed me to contact potential employers, provide a way for them to respond to me, and helped me save money. Assurance also gave me peace of mind that I had a way to stay connected to my kids while away from home.”
According to a 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. Data collected by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Chronicle for Higher Educations Urban Institute, showed that the rate of graduates with doctoral degrees who have filed for government assistance more than tripled between 2007 and 2010. According to a report*, “If all 28.5 million adults eligible for Lifeline Assistance were to take advantage of the program and earn at the same rate and level as [the study] sample, it would result in $3.7 billion in fresh income for the poor and near poor.”
The Lifeline Assistance program is available for only one wireline or wireless account per household. Enrollment in this government benefit program is available to consumers who meet federal or state-specific eligibility criteria. Massachusetts residents may qualify for Assurance Wireless if they participate in certain public assistance programs such as Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC), Aid to Families With Dependent Children (TAFDC), Bureau of Indian Affairs, General Assistance, Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only), Low Income Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Mass Health (Medicaid), National School Lunch’s Free Lunch Program (NSL), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and United Tribes Food Distribution Program. Applicants may also qualify based on household income. All applicants must provide proof of program participation or proof of income.
Residents with temporary addresses may now be eligible for Lifeline services. Separate households that reside at the same address are now eligible for Lifeline service, which will permit residents of homeless shelters and nursing homes, for example, to apply for Lifeline services. Applicants must affirmatively certify that Lifeline recipients living at the same address are part of a separate household.
In addition to a voice mail account2 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the 250 free voice minutes and 250 text messages each month, customers can choose from other low cost options to pay for additional minutes, texting, international calling and more at competitive rates.
Assurance Wireless is also available in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This list of states continues to expand and can be found on the Assurance website.
Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or by visiting www.assurancewireless.com.
People who don’t qualify for Assurance Wireless but who are also struggling and searching for value can take advantage of payLo by Virgin Mobile. payLo was especially designed with value-conscious wireless consumers in mind, offering plans for as little as $20/month for 400 minutes or access to 90 days of service for $20 at a rate of less than $7 per month. payLo is available at more than 40,000 retail stores, including Best Buy, RadioShack and Target. Prospective low-income customers who find they are not eligible for Assurance Wireless may learn more about Virgin Mobile’s no-contract payLo Plan options by visiting http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/payloplans.jsp##.
About Assurance Wireless
Assurance Wireless, one of Sprint’s no-contract brands, is a federal Lifeline Assistance program from Virgin Mobile. Lifeline Assistance is a government benefit program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund. Applicants must qualify for this program. Assurance Wireless provides service on the Nationwide Sprint® Network, which reaches more than 282 million people.
Offer limited to eligible customers (varies by state) residing in selected geographic areas and is non-transferrable. Assurance Wireless is subject to the Terms of Service (includes plan details) found on http://www.assurancewireless.com/Public/TermsandConditions.aspx.
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.
*A study entitled “Subsidized Cell Phones Provide Significant Economic Gains for Poor and Near-Poor Americans” was published by the New Millennium Research Council.
1 Based on published price plans as of August 24, 2012, of major Lifeline carriers with more than 1 million subscribers who provide service in more than 20 states.
2 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.
Jack Pflanz, 315-374-0693