Mississippi residents can take advantage of several free government phone programs. There are the three free cell phone programs (ReachOut Wireless, Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless). In addition to the free programs, residents can take advantage of discounted home land line rates through the LifeLine/Link-Up Program.
Qualified Mississippi residents can receive a 50% discount (up to a maximum of $30) off of the initial installation and service charges for putting a new phone. This discount is offered through the Link-Up program.
LifeLine Phone Discounts
In addition to discounted installation charges, the LifeLine Program allows local phone companies to offer discounted service. The amount of discount offered by each company varies. To find out how much of a discount your phone company offers, go to the USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company) website and click on the state of Mississippi on their US map. This will bring you to a page that lists several of the participating phone carriers.
Telepath networks Inc., for example offers a $13.50 discount on the basic monthly. Companies such as Decatur Telephone Company and Georgetown Telephone Company offer a savings at $8.25. Sprint Nextel charges $16.50 on the basic monthly bill and further explains how they bill the anytime minutes and nights/weekend charges.
The list as indicated on the USAC website is not a complete listing of all phone service carriers in the state of Mississippi. You can find a complete listing of Mississippi LifeLine/Link-Up participants on the Mississippi Public Service Commission website (page 2 of the application).
Qualifying for Free or Discounted Phone Service
All of the phone service companies mentioned in this article must comply with the Federal LifeLine/Link-Up requirements. Because this program is intended to help low-income individuals obtain affordable phone service, to qualify you must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. Or, if you participate in one or more of the government assistance programs including but not limited to:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance – Section 8, Section 521, Section 202 and Public Housing (including HOPE VI)
- Food stamps
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Initiative
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (for federally recognized tribal lands)
Applying for Discounted/Free Phone Service
If you haven’t done so already, download the Mississippi Public Service Commission Lifeline and Linkup Assistance Programs Self Certification form. After you download the form, complete it and either mail or fax it to your telephone service provider. The address and phone number of all of the service providers are included on the application.
A Note of Advice: If you are going to sign up for the free cell phone programs (Assurance Wireless, ReachOut Wireless and SafeLink Wireless), it’s best to visit their websites and apply online.