Millions of Americans Who Didn't Qualify Claimed U.S. Lifeline Phones
February 13, 2013 9:53 AM
comment(s) - last by
Carriers say most people drop simply didn't respond to requests
The United States government has collected a tax on phone lines under the Lifeline program that began back in 1984. The purpose of this tax was to provide phone service for people who were unable to afford it on their own to ensure that these people weren't cut off from emergency services, jobs, or family. Every American citizen who has a phone line has paid into this Lifeline program.
Payouts in the program in 2008 amounted to $819 million. In 2012, the U.S. government spent $2.2 billion providing free phone service to low-income Americans.
In an effort to squash government waste, the FCC believed that many of the Americans who were claiming the free phone service were not eligible so it tightened the rules last year forcing carriers to verify that existing subscribers were in fact eligible.
Wall Street Journal
reports that far more subscribers to the program were dropped than expected. A review has shown that the top five carrier recipients of Lifeline support had a total of 41% of over 6 million subscribers that couldn't demonstrate their eligibility or simply didn't respond to requests for certification.
These top five carriers were AT&T, Telrite Corp, Tag Mobile USA, Verizon, and Virgin Mobile. Together these carriers account for 34% of all Lifeline subscribers as of May 2012. The Lifeline program is open to subscribers that meet the federal poverty guidelines, are on food stamps, Medicaid, or other assistance programs.
Previous program rules allowed consumers to certify themselves for free phone service without having to prove they met federal poverty guidelines.
Wall Street Journal
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
2/13/2013 2:38:45 PM
Rukkian is okay with limited minutes, but has an issue with internet and texting. The minutes part I agree with. The internet part is false, AFAICS. The texting part is basically free. I therefore addressed his entire comment, not one part.
The point of my post is that if you're okay with 150 min, then I don't see why you're not okay with one extra minute equivalent (if even that) for the couple hundred free texts or whatever.
Suppose they get 300 free texts/mo, which is maybe 100kb after overhead. That's what, $0.10-0.20 of wireless bandwidth on low-use data plans (which in turn have rates 100x as high as monthly plans)?
2/13/2013 8:08:00 PM
Text messages are carried over the same signals cell phones use to maintain contact with local towers, which is why there's a fairly small character limit. It doesn't cost anything other than the usual overhead of maintaining cell phone coverage.
Of course, I don't blame anybody for not knowing that, because it used to be that they'd charge you for texts, which is a total rip-off (see "doesn't cost anything other than the usual overhead").
2/14/2013 9:46:27 AM
The texting part is basically free.
I think what you mean is the texting part should be free. It is an insignificant amount of data and is piggybacked on the tower maintenance signals. However, the truth is that it is not free. Lets take a look at two of the top five carriers involved in lifeline support: AT&T and Verizon (because they are well known).
AT&T offers two plans $20 unlimited and $.20 per message.
Verizon's lowest cost plan is $10 for 500 out of network texts.
While 300 free texts/mo may cost almost nothing to the carrier, the cheapest way to get there on Verizon is $10. On AT&T you're looking at at least $20.
Now I'm not sure exactly where these two rank on the list as there is no given ranking, but that's pretty expensive for two of the top five. If for some reason the government gets this for free or near so, then they should really be launching investigations to find out how these companies justify charging these prices to regular customers and end the pricing collusion.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
Microsoft "Hopes" Developers Will Make Xbox One Games Unplayable Offline
May 24, 2013, 12:13 PM
Federal Judge Sides with U.S. DOJ in Apple E-Books Preliminary Hearing
May 24, 2013, 11:46 AM
HTC Considers "Senseless" One Smartphone
May 24, 2013, 8:00 AM
HTC One Hits 5 Million Sales in First Month, Despite Issues
May 23, 2013, 4:04 PM
HTC First's Arrival in UK Canceled, Facebook Assesses "Home" Feedback
May 23, 2013, 3:02 PM
Microsoft Expands Windows Azure in Asia, Mocks iPad in New Commercial
May 23, 2013, 12:06 PM
Most Popular Articles
High School Student Creates Storage Device that Can Charge in 20 Seconds
May 20, 2013, 6:51 AM
Apples Tries to Use Decade-Old Patents to Ban Samsung Galaxy S IV
May 22, 2013, 3:00 PM
NASA Awards $125,000 Grant for 3D Printed Food on Long-Term Space Travels
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM
Microsoft Announces Voice-Controlled "Xbox One"
May 21, 2013, 12:55 AM
Cure For Baldness Could Be on Store Shelves within Two Years
May 22, 2013, 8:29 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Lumosity: Does it Work?
May 22, 2013, 8:20 PM
Quick Note: Sony "Teases" PS4 Ahead of Xbox Reveal in New Video
May 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
Nokia Introduces Instagram-Like App of Its Own to Help Lumia Sales
May 20, 2013, 7:10 AM
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information