Eligible Arkansas residents can take advantage of the free government cell phone programs as offered through ReachOut Wireless, Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless (please note that Assurance Wireless is not available in all areas of Arkansas).
The free government cell phones are made available as a result of the federal Lifeline and Link-Up programs. If you qualify you’ll not only receive a free cell phone but you will receive free airtime. If you wish you can purchase additional airtime above and beyond what is provided for free.
Discounted Phone Service
As an alternative to the free government cell phones, Arkansas residents can choose to take advantage of monthly discounts on their basic phone service. These discounts range in price from $7.50 as offered by Pinnacle Communications to as much as $13.50 as offered through Bellrund Communications.
To find out how much of a discount your phone company offers, visit the LifelineSupport.org website. The Lifeline Support website is a collaboration of the Universal Services Administration Company (USAC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They co-administer the Lifeline/Link-Up program.
Once you’re on the website, click Arkansas on the US map. There you will be able to choose from the selection of phone service providers to see how much of a monthly discount they offer. Although the Lifeline Support website has an extensive listing of phone companies, it may not have all phone service providers in the Arkansas area. Therefore, if your phone company is not listed there, call your local company to find out how much of a discount they offer.
Qualifying for Free and Discounted Phone Service
The Lifeline and Link-Up programs are offered to low-income individuals. Therefore, the household income must either be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or you must participate in one of the following government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance Program
- Food Stamps
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- The National School Lunch Programs Free Lunch Program
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Applying For Services
- Discounted Service: Once you have a qualification card, contact your local phone company for the Lifeline application. Complete the application and submit it to the phone company for processing. It will take several weeks (more like months) before the discount is applied to your phone. In the meanwhile, continue to pay your current phone bill in a timely fashion.
- Free Government Cell Phones: To apply for free cell phones, visit the provider’s website (Assurance, SafeLink or ReachOut) and complete their online application. As mentioned above, although Assurance Wireless is available in Arkansas, it is not available for all zip codes.
The Lifeline program only allows you to sign up for one of the available programs. In other words, either you sign up for the free cell phones for the discounted phone service. You cannot sign up for both. Additionally, read up on the home address requirement prior to signing up for government assisted phone service.