LABELLE, FL. -- The Link-Up Florida and Lifeline Assistance programs help make telephone service affordable to low-income customers by giving free cell phones with free minutes or giving rebates on telephone hook-up charges and credits toward monthly phone bills.
The programs are available to anyone receiving government assistance such as food assistance, medicaid, SSI and other programs for Florida residents with low or no income.
As of June 30, 2011, SafeLink Wireless, a free cell phone with minutes service, had 447,379 Lifeline customers, and Assurance Wireless, another cell phone provider, had 286,866. These two are probably the most popular services, as they provide one free cell phone per household, and include up to 250 free monthly minutes.
The number of eligible customers participating in the Lifeline program in Florida grew 47% during the July 2010 through June 2011 annual review period. As of June 30, 2011, 943,854 eligible customers participated in the Lifeline program.
The five companies accounting for 918,925 Lifeline customers are SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, d/b/a AT&T Florida, Embarq Florida, Inc. d/b/a CenturyLink, and Verizon Florida LLC.
The three largest incumbent local exchange carriers, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon had 122,849, 39,524, and 22,307 Lifeline customers, respectively. The Lifeline program provide assistance in land line installation fees and monthly phone charges or free cell phones. In total, non-incumbent local exchange carrier Lifeline enrollment was 748,515 customers, which accounts for 79.3% of Florida's Lifeline customers.