7/12/18: Please see the updated article on Idaho Free Government Phones.
As of this writing, April 2011, Idaho does not have a free government phone program or a wireless phone program. What they do have is similar to what is offered in California. They offer discounted home phone rates to those who qualify.
While this article will provide information on the discounted phones instead of free government phones, be advised that TracFone Wireless is seeking permission to earn “Eligible Telecommunication Carrier” status in the state of Idaho in an attempt to provide free wireless phone service to those who qualify. On March 31, 2011, they held a meeting with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to begin the process.
In the meanwhile, if and until TracFone’s request is approved, listed below are the government assisted phone options for Idaho.
Idaho Discounted Phone Service
There are actually two types of services offered in Idaho. Through the Idaho Telephone Service Assistance Program (ITSAP) candidates can receive a discount on local phone service and through the Link-Up America program, recipients can cut one half off of the home phone service installation cost (maximum of $30).
Through the ITSAP program, participants can save up to $13.50 off of their local home telephone bill and the initial phone service deposit requirement is waived. Additionally, there won’t be an additional charge for local calls if the participant agrees to block all long distance service.
Although this is far from a free government phone plan, it does provide basic phone service at a discounted rate for those having difficulty paying their monthly phone bills.
Eligibility and Qualifications
In order to qualify for the discounted phone service, the customer must be the head of the household with an income that does not exceed 133% of the federal poverty guideline. Lastly, the applicant’s phone number and name must match the name and number in the telephone company’s records.
How to Apply
To apply for the Idaho Telephone Service Assistance Program and Link-Up Assistance go to an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Regional Office or a Community Action Partnership office. Before actually going to the office, give them a call and explain what you’re looking to do. They’ll steer you in the right direction.
Once you apply and are deemed eligible, your information (such as your name and phone number) will be sent to your local phone company. If everything is in order and your name/telephone number matches the phone company records, your discount should begin within 60 days.
Wireless Phone Assistance
While the information outlined above pertains to home landlines, there are some wireless companies in Idaho that are considered Eligible Telecommunication Carriers and they can provide discounts on cell phone service. Keep in mind, however, that you can only receive discounts on one type of phone service. If you receive a discount on your home phone you cannot receive a discount on your cell phone too.
You must renew your ITSAP eligibility every year.