questionshave you heard of safelink, a program that…

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It is paid for by taxpayers:

From Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SafeLink#SafeLink

SafeLink Wireless provides a free cell phone and a limited number of voice minutes each month for low-income-eligible families (one per family) who do not use Lifeline services offered by any other phone or wireless company. It is funded through the Universal Service Fund that almost every US taxpayer contributes to via their existing land-line and wireless service provider, but is only operational in a limited number of states.[4][5] It is similar to the Lifeline and LinkUp government subsidized service for home telephones.[6] Applications for service may be done via their web page, or by having them fax or mail an application form. No choice of phone handset is provided by the application process. Additional minutes over the free monthly benefit may be purchased. As of May 2011, Safelink Wireless had almost 4,000,000 subscribers,[7] the largest Lifeline cell phone provider in the United States.

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Con't

Depending on how you want to define "government program".

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That's an interesting service. (And hoping we can have a civil conversation about it here in the threads. :)

I didn't know this sort of thing existed! Thanks for bringing it up.

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I'm aware of it, yes. They give the option for the participants to buy a compatible phone, or send them a free phone. The phones they send out tend to be the very, very cheapest. They probably retail for under $15, so it's not as if the government is providing free iPhones.

Every month the phone is loaded with about 150-200 minutes. Again, not a ton. And it's not as if phone minutes actually "cost" anything anyway. This can be essential for someone who needs a contact phone while they're looking for work.

This is a great program that helps a lot of people. I doubt that anyone who's just looking for government handouts would be racing to get a cheapie Tracphone with a handful of minutes.

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My mom was actually looking into this, but I talked her out of it. Namely because she is on my cell phone plan (as well as my brother). While my brother and I both have smart phones, my mom just wanted a basic phone to be able to keep in touch when not using her house phone. Her phone cost me $50 new (a razor I bought several years ago), and her part of the plan amounts to $15 a month (with taxes!). My brother and I split the bill, she never has to pay. Better coverage, and shared minutes with free mobile to mobile and free nights and weekends. Works for her! I haven't bought her a new phone in years, all while upgrading mine every couple years. Works for me as well! If her phone ever breaks, I'll just pick her up another one, the basic phones that she likes are cheap enough anyway. I really wish I could get her on a smart phone, but I don't see that happening anytime soon!

I think this is great for those who need it though.

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It is a government funded project. Even says on their homepage they are a provider of the government program.

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@mtm2: How I define "government program" in this case is "a darn good thing."

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We got this for my mom-in-law. She's had it for 3 years. We just had a rare & uncommon problem with it. It was turned off for lack of use. She hadn't used in in 3 months. But, restoring service was easy and she's been reminded to use the durn thing. She's 83 and can't grasp that it's free to use.

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This is an update of a long-time program that provided landlines to families/individuals who could not afford them. The original goals (which I believe still stand) were threefold:
- it is almost impossible to find a job unless you have a reliable phone number at which you can be reached; this is an almost insurmountable barrier for people who are homeless or living in domestic violence shelters (which typically do not have phone numbers at which residents can be reached, for obvious reasons); moving to cell phones has alleviated this problem
- ability to make phone calls to emergency services; important to everyone, but especially those with small children, health problems, or domestic violence/high crime situations
- facilitating contact with friends/family because a support network is one of the most protective factors against physical/mental illness, as well as allowing people to arrange support, such as finding emergency childcare vs. missing work (and possibly losing one's job)