Program can help more than 824,000 New Jersey residents stay connected to family, medical services and jobs
WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), August 14, 2012 - Assurance Wireless from Virgin Mobile, 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 two-year anniversary of providing services to New Jersey 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 440,000 New Jersey residents are without a job and more than 16.5 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 New Jersey 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.”2
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. New Jersey residents may qualify for Assurance Wireless if they participate in certain public assistance programs such as General Assistance, Home Energy Assistance Program, Lifeline Utility Credit/Tenants Lifeline Assistance, Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled, (PAAD), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/Work First NJ (TANF/WFNJ). Residents 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 account3 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the 250 free voice minutes 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, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, 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 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). 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-transferable. Consumers who willfully make false statements in order to obtain the benefit can be punished by fine or imprisonment or can be barred from the program. Phone model’s based on availability and may vary depending on inventory. Voicemail draws from plan minutes. Add’l voice: 10c/min. Domestic text: 10c/msg (sent or received). Int’l & Data services may be extra per plan. Airtime charges apply when accessing voicemail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted. Account may expire 150 days after you receive notice of ineligibility for Assurance Wireless service and account balance may be forfeited. State and local sales taxes and fees may apply. $5 Plan: Minimum Top-Up of $10 may be required. Nationwide coverage area reaches more than 280 million people. Virgin Mobile USA network services are provided on the Nationwide Sprint® Network. Visit virginmobileusa.com to check coverage in your area. Assurance Wireless is subject to the Terms of Service (includes plan details) found on www.assurancewireless.com.
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 Based on published price plans as of May 23, 2012, of major Lifeline carriers with more than 1 million subscribers who provide service in more than 20 states.
3 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.
Jack Pflanz, 315-374-0693