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Rhode Island: Discounted and Free Government Cell Phones

If you live in the state of Rhode Island you can sign up for free government cell phones through the SafeLink Wireless ReachOut, Assurance Wireless or the newcomer Q Link Wireless.  Through these programs, eligible Rhode Island residents receive a free cell phone along with free airtime. This is made possible by the federal Lifeline/Link-Up program.

Discounted Phone Service

In addition to free cell phones, qualified Rhode Island residents can opt instead to participate in the discounted home phone service program. The discounts on the home phone service are in the $13 a month range. The actual amounts may vary from phone company to phone company.

The website Lifeline Support.org  which is a website run by the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) has a listing of the participating carriers by state along with the available discounts. Unfortunately, for Rhode Island, they only list two phone companies which are Cox Communications  with a monthly savings of $13.44 and Verizon with a monthly savings of $13.39.

If your phone service is provided by a company other than the two listed above, please call your local phone company to see what type of Lifeline discount they offer.

Help with Phone Installation Charges

Through the Link-Up portion of the program, qualified residents can defray part of the costs for initial phone installation. Link-Up will pay up to 50% of the installation costs maxing out at $30. However, qualified individuals who live on federally recognized tribal lands get an additional $70 to offset their installation costs for a total of $100.

Qualifying for Free/Discounted Phone Service

The Lifeline/Link-Up program was created to help low-income individuals pay for or obtain phone service where they otherwise would’ve had a difficult time covering the costs. Therefore, to qualify Rhode Island residents must participate in at least one of the following government assisted programs:

  • Family Independence Program (FIP)
  • General Public Assistance (GPA)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Rhode Island Pharmaceutical Assistance to Elderly (RIPAE)
  • Rhode Island Medical Assistance Program (MAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Or, if your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Signing Up for Service

Rhode Island

Discounted Service: To sign up for discounted phone services call your phone company and ask for the Lifeline/Link-Up phone application. Once you receive the application complete and submit it along with the necessary documentation to prove you are eligible for the program.

The phone company will process the application and once approved you will see the discount in your monthly phone bill. Please be patient because this process may take several weeks. In the meanwhile, if you do have an existing phone balance, please continue to pay it on time.

Free Cell Phones: To apply for free government cell phones, visit the SafeLink Wireless, Q Link Wireless, Assurance Wireless or ReachOut Wireless website and complete their online application. Similar to the discounted phone application process, make sure you have the necessary documentation and/or ID numbers to prove you are eligible for the program.


  • You may only apply for either the free cell phone for the discounted home phone plan, not both.
  • If you’re applying for free government phones, check out this post before applying.

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