April 06, 2011
Assurance Wireless to Aid Arkansas Residents Facing Economic Hardship with Free Cell Phone and Wireless Service
More than 197,000 residents eligible to receive Assurance Wireless
WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), April 06, 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 Arkansas.
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 106,000 Arkansas residents are currently without a job. 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 more than 18 percent of Arkansas residents living below the federal poverty line, it’s clear that the state’s economic crisis has had an impact on residents’ ability to find work and pay monthly bills,” said Grace Boehm, director for Assurance Wireless. “We are looking forward to helping people in Arkansas stay connected with potential employers and ultimately get back on their feet.”
According to a recent 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
“I was unemployed for an extended amount of time due to layoffs,” stated Evan M., 37, an Assurance Wireless customer from Maryland. “The free phone and service I received from Assurance Wireless was invaluable to my finding new employment and to my efforts to recover from this recession. It allowed me to contact potential employers and provide a way for them to respond to me, while also saving money needed to provide for my family. Assurance also gave me peace of mind that I had a way to stay connected to my kids while away from home.”
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 a voice mail account3 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.4
Customers eligible for Assurance Wireless include those who participate in Medicaid Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps/SNAP Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program. Customers may also qualify based on low household income. Eligibility varies by state.
Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or visiting www.assurancewireless.com. 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/paylo-plans.jsp#
Assurance Wireless is currently also available in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington 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 800-395-2171 or visit www.assurancewireless.com. Information is available in English and Spanish.
Note: Sources for all information and statistics are available upon request
3 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail account via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.
4 When purchasing additional minutes or features, standard taxes and surcharges will apply.