Low-income Utah residents who meet the eligibility requirements for Lifeline/Link-Up services can take advantage of free government cell phones as offered by Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless. These companies provide free cell phones along with free airtime.
Although receiving a free cell phone is an attractive offer, not everyone feels comfortable using cell phone technology. For those individuals/households who prefer to use a home landline, there is the option to sign up for discounted home phone service through the Utah Telephone Assistance Program (UTAP).
Utah Home Phone Discounts
Through the Lifeline Program (according to the Lifeline Support website), eligible residents can pay as little as $1 a month for home phone service (as offered through Cellular One) or save anywhere from $13.34 (Qwest) to $21.40 (Frontier Communications) off of their basic monthly phone bill. The discounted amount varies by phone service provider.
There are two ways to find out how much of a discount a phone company offers:
- Visit the Lifeline Support website. This website is co-administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Once on the site, click on the state of Utah on the US map. It will bring you to a page where you can browse and select from the list of phone companies to see what type of discount they offer.
- Call your phone company. While the Lifeline Support website is a helpful service, it doesn’t necessarily list all phone service providers in the state of Utah. If yours isn’t listed, call your company to inquire about the Lifeline discounts offered.
In addition to the above discounts, through the Link-Up portion of the program, eligible residents can defray part of the phone installation cost. Link-Up will pay up to 50% (maximum of $30) of the phone installation charges. Households on federally recognized tribal lands may qualify for Enhanced Link-Up which will pay up to $100 of installation costs.
Qualifying for Free or Discounted Phone Service
If you participate in one of the following government assistance programs, you qualify for free or discounted phone service:
- Food Stamps
- General Assistance
- Head Start (income based qualification only)
- Home Energy Assistance Target Program (HEAT)/ Home Electric Lifeline Program (HELP)
- National Free School Lunch Program (not reduced)
- Public Housing Assistance
- Refugee Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Work Toward Employment (WTE)
Or, if your household income is at or below 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
Applying for Discounted or Free Government Phones
- To apply for free government phones through Assurance Wireless, you can either download their application or complete their online application.
- To apply for service through SafeLink Wireless, visit their website and complete their online application
- For discounted phone service call UTAP (1-800-948-7510) and request an application (you can apply simultaneously for UTAP and HEAT), or you can call your local phone company and request an application.
A Few Things You Should Know
- The application process is not a quick one. It may take several weeks (up to a month or more) before your application is completely processed.
- If you are approved for the Lifeline Program, you will be subject to annual re-certification.
- The free government phone providers do not ship cell phones to P.O. Boxes or temporary residences.
If you require additional information, please download the UTAP Manual.