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Tracfone offers SafeLink in New Hampshire

Last week, Tracfone announced that the would cover an additional 101,000 households in New Hampshire. SafeLink provides a free cell phone and 80 minutes per month to low-income individuals. As we learned as part of a study last year, access to cellular phones can increase one’s earning potential. However, SafeLink isn’t completely welcome everywhere.

In article in The Republican, a newspaper in Massachusetts, notes that just 39 percent of eligible people have taken advantage of SafeLink. That doesn’t mean that people don’t want it. Rather, it more likely means they are not aware.

The Repubican article, while seemingly critical, follows the story of Edward Collins, a 48-year-old Massachusetts resident who has taken advantage of the program. He sees this as a temporary boon, something he can use to get on his feet while he trains for an information technology job. This is a perfect example of SafeLink’s aim.

Detractors, however, note that the subsidy for these free phones come from taxpayers. State Rep. Donald F. HUmanson Jr. said, “We are having everybody else pay a fee to provide cell phones to other people.” Worse, Massachusetts residents paid in roughly $115 million more into the program, in the form of the Universal Service Fund, than they received back. That, however, misunderstands the USF.

The USF is more than providing service to those in need. It also helps build out rural networks, which larger, profit-minded carriers won’t touch because of the cost of operation vs. expected revenue. While cell phone users might resent paying a tax for the purpose of serving others, it is still necessary to serve the whole country, not just select parts.

While the gripes are noted, and they are certainly legitimate, the benefits are real. Rural areas need cellular coverage, too. If profit-minded companies will not build out networks there, who will? The American tax payer. Alternate solutions are welcome.

6 Responses

  1. Mike Moreno Says

    Safelink is welfare! Basically the US government is taking money from tax paying citizens and giving it to people in the form of cellphones instead of actual money. These same people could get by just fine with land line service. Furthermore, I called 1 800 Safelink and it took me to a customer service call center in INDIA!!! So my tax dollars now subsidize free cell phones and helps pay the wages of Indians, not US citizens. Brilliant!!!

    Posted on July 15th, 2009 at 6:40 pm
  2. Nanny Says

    I am a low income college student who had been having trouble paying for my cell phone bill each month. Safelink is a great idea because its not only for the unemployed…but for low income people! I am working, but I also have to pay for tuition and books…which makes my budget for my cell phone slim to none. I switched to TracFone not too long ago, and now I am going to apply for the Safelink plan.

    Posted on August 13th, 2009 at 2:55 pm
  3. Annette Says

    What about the new Virgin mobile program? Little info but lots of chatting going on. They are offering a deal to low income people something like only $10 and I have to pay full price? Seems unfair. Am calling customer service and complaining. We should all get the same price!!

    Posted on August 14th, 2009 at 9:52 am
  4. Lindsay Says

    Safelink provides a great opportunity for low-income customers! I just graduated from my community college and am currently jobless.. being eligible for this free phone has saved me a great deal as well as kept me connected with my family. Safelink has helped me to move forward a considerable amount!

    Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 11:23 pm
  5. Jessica Says

    Research is not hard “SafeLink phones are not paid for by taxpayers or the federal government. TracFone Wireless pays for the phones and also the cost of promoting its SafeLink program to make sure that eligible consumers know about the program.”

    Posted on February 28th, 2010 at 9:36 pm
  6. Scott LeBlanc Says

    Mike I have been unemployed for almost 2 years now. That is after working 36+ years, paying my taxes, and my bills. The truth is that I have watched my credit scores of 700+, my savings, retirement, and possibly soon my home of 18 years vanish. Meanwhile my phone bill has gone from $67 four years ago to close to $200 and recently was shut-off after I paid only half the bill. That was after 20 years of being a faithful customer.
    I see things a bit differently than I did 2 years ago when I was ‘paying taxes’ and had an income like you. This isn’t welfare … it’s a right of every American and as soon as my situation changes I will give up the ‘freedom’ phone and be thankful rather than begrudging the next person that gets one to help them in a time of need!
    It’s a Global economy and we need to adjust *)

    Posted on June 23rd, 2011 at 11:37 pm

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