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Program that offers free phones to millions of Americans



CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) – A new government program offers free cell phones and mobile hotspot services to millions of eligible people.

The wireless company TruConnect is partnering with a program called Lifeline to offer the service.

“Currently, there are around 30-40 million people who do not have access to high-speed internet and this has only increased recently with the problems due to COVID-19,” Matthew Johnson, co-founder and co-CEO of TruConnect he told NewsNation affiliate KTLA.

Johnson said the Lifeline program started in the 1980s by President Ronald Reagan, but the vast majority of Americans don’t know it.

Lifeline started out as a way to offer low-income Americans a hard-wired phone line at a steep discount, but in recent years the focus has shifted to wireless service with phones and free monthly service.

Lifeline̵

7;s basic offering is a budget Android phone with talktime minutes and SMS, plus 3 gigabytes of data each month. California is very generous with unlimited conversations and messages, while other states mostly offer attendees 1,000 speeches and texts.

The only clause: you must use the phone at least once a month to keep the service active.

There are other companies that do this too. They have names that include Assurance Wireless, Q Link Wireless, and SafeLink Wireless. TruConnect prides itself on differentiating by including extras and even manufacturing their own smartphones so they can better control quality, performance and minimize bloatware.

“All of our products, including the hotspot, are compatible with the 4G LTE network,” said Johnson, who explained that they work on T-Mobile’s network.

Calls to other countries such as Mexico, Canada, China, Vietnam and Korea are also included in the plan.

“In the United States, the two core programs that automatically qualify you are Medicaid and Snap, so if you are part of either of those two programs you automatically qualify,” Johnson said. There are also income levels that may qualify you. Additionally, emergency eligibility is being offered to many who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

To apply, visit TruConnect.com. Qualified candidates have until January 8, 2021 to enroll in the service.

NewsNation affiliate KTLA contributed to this report.


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