The Federal Lifeline Assistance Program originally only provided discounts on traditional landline phone service. Once the Lifeline program was updated to include wireless phone service in 2005, many eligible low-income Americans were able to receive discounts on their cell phone bill.

Currently, some cellular service providers of the Lifeline program can provide free cell phone service, and may even provide a free cell phone to each qualified Lifeline subscriber who cannot afford to purchase their own phone.

What kind of phones, plans and features are available? Issa Asad, the CEO of Dania, Florida’s Q Link Wireless, LLC, an approved provider of Lifeline service, explains that “the plans and features for Lifeline cell phone service are very similar to prepaid phone plans, and vary by state.”

Here’s a closer look at what types of Lifeline plans and features are available to qualified subscribers of the Lifeline Assistance Program.

Who Pays for the Phones?

Wireless service providers wholly subsidize the cost of the cell phones that Lifeline subscribers receive for free. The government, the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not contribute any money towards the cost of the cell phones. Providers are also not obligated by law to offer these phones; they choose whether to do so on their own. Q Link Wireless is one example of a Lifeline service provider that provides a free cell phone to every approved applicant.

What Types of Plans and Features Are Available?

The types of plans and features offered for Lifeline cell phone service vary by state, and by Lifeline service provider. In general, most states and Lifeline providers offer the following:

  • Up to 250 minutes of talk time with an allotted amount of texting
  • 911 access
  • Call waiting and Caller ID
  • Voicemail
  • Free domestic long distance


“Since the plans and features for Lifeline cell phone service are similar to prepaid phone plans, customers can easily understand and compare their options, as many are already familiar with prepaid wireless plans,” said Asad, the QLink Wireless CEO.

Customers who go over their minutes with Lifeline cell phone service have the option to purchase more minutes, similar to a prepaid cell phone service. Some plans also include the option to add other features, such as international calling and monthly rollover for unused minutes.

How Long Can Customers Use Lifeline Cell Phone Service?

Once applicants are approved, they are a Lifeline subscriber for at least 12 months. Lifeline subscribers must complete and submit an Annual Recertification form each year to continue receiving Lifeline discounts for the next year. This is one of the requirements of the Lifeline program. Most providers have an online or mail in form that customers can submit in order to re-certify their eligibility. Customers can also complete this process over the phone.

In most cases, customers who receive a free cell phone are allowed to keep it, even if they leave the Lifeline program. Customers may also continue using their Lifeline cell phone as a prepaid phone service by purchasing monthly minutes from their Lifeline service provider.

What Else Should Customers Know?

Most providers make it easy for customers to check their minutes or add minutes online or over the phone. Customers should also be able to enroll in the Lifeline program and check the status of their application through links listed on the provider’s website or by calling their support number.

What does it take to be eligible for Lifeline? How do you meet these requirements to apply for the program? In the next segment, we’ll go over the eligibility requirements and the application process for the Lifeline Assistance Program.

Above content provided by Q Link Wireless, a subsidiary of Quadrant Holdings in Dania, Florida.


Comments (26)
  1. I thought this article about keeping in touch with cell phones was very well written. I learned a lot and will tell my friends about this.

  2. You can keep in touch very easily with this awesome program that will help everyone

  3. Bobby Jones says:

    This is so important. You speak the truth my man!

  4. Barno Das says:

    I was surprised reading this article that all low income americans can use cell phone service.

  5. I found it very interesting that wireless service providers subsidize the entire cost of the program. This is something I had not known before reading this article. Thank you for the clarification.

  6. I think it’s great to offer a free cell phone service. These days it’s pretty much something you absolutely need.

  7. The program shows its intention to be closer with beneficiaries by providing cell phones.

  8. This is just absolutely amazing

  9. Offering a free cell phone service is a great idea. Lots of people doesn’t have access to it and its a need they have to have.

  10. It’s amazing that once your a Lifeline member the membership lasts a whole year. Wow!

  11. It is very generous to allow people have discount for one year.

  12. I am glad that someone is providing information about eligibility requirements.

  13. Barno Das says:

    Cell phone service is rare one in USA. I think anyone can receive it

  14. Sartle Power says:

    This is so important and very interesting that wireless service providers subsidize the entire cost of the program. Thank you for delail.

  15. The feature of the program is greatly explained. This program is a good opportunity to use a free phone service for low income people. I am lauding the efforts of Q Link Wireless for this program.

  16. can every lifeline subscriber get free cell phone

  17. This is well described therefore it is essay to understand all points one by one. This program is a good opportunity to use a free phone service for low income people. I am really interesting that wireless service providers subsidize the entire cost of the program

  18. Benjamin Alan Smith says:

    Great article and well put together. They are many reasons why it is important to have a cell phone. One day, landlines will be a thing of the past.

  19. My grandpa used this service and it really helped him a lot! He couldn’t afford to pay for a phone, and this was a very convenient way to communicate with us.

  20. It’s great that they are offering 250 minutes of free talk time so they can at least make some calls each month.

  21. Md Yeachin Hossain says:

    I was surprised reading this article that all low income americans can use cell phone service.

  22. Jessica Casper says:

    I think the features are great. They give phone access to low-income families, but only what is necessary.

  23. Regina Pride says:

    It’s good to know that the plans are free as well as the phone by the Q Link Wireless provider. I think 250 minutes plus the other features of 911 access, call waiting and caller ID as well as voicemail are excellent for most people’s needs.

  24. Shivam Wormt says:

    Although the features are limited it serves the purpose.