Lifeline, “Obama Phone,” and the Affordable Connectivity Program | Gen Mobile Blog

Lifeline, "Obama Phone," and the Affordable Connectivity Program Explained

In today's world, having a phone isn't just about chatting with friends—it's about staying connected, finding jobs, and accessing the wider world.

That’s why the federal government has implemented programs like the Lifeline program to help low-income families afford these vital and essential services. 

The Start of the Lifeline Program

Known by some as the “Obama Phone” program, the Lifeline program actually got its start much earlier during President Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1985.

Originally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intended for Lifeline to help low-income families afford landline phones by providing a discount to offset the cost of service. But as technology changed and evolved, so did federal efforts to help Americans access communications services. 

In 1996, under President Bill Clinton, a new law required telecommunications providers to pay a fee to support programs like Lifeline. In 2005, under President George W. Bush, the federal government recognized the value of mobile phone service and expanded Lifeline to include it. 

President Obama’s Relationship to the Lifeline Program

By the time that President Barack Obama took office in 2008, the Lifeline program had been operating for two decades. But increased media attention to the Lifeline program led to some calling the Lifeline program an “Obama Phone.”

In 2012, the FCC voted to impose new reforms to the program, and in 2016 the FCC voted to expand the Lifeline program to cover broadband internet service. Americans could now choose to apply their Lifeline benefit to a landline, mobile phone service, or home or mobile internet service and any bundled voice and data service packages. 

Key Facts About the Lifeline Program

The Lifeline program is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their income, can stay connected. 

Here are some essential points to know about the Lifeline program:

  • The Lifeline program is a federal program that provides a $9.25 discount for eligible plans, but some states have opted to provide additional discounts on top of the federal subsidy.

  • You may qualify for the Lifeline program if your household income is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines or if you participate in certain federal assistance programs, including, but not limited to, SNAP, Medicaid, and some Tribal Assistance programs.

  • Each household is limited to one Lifeline benefit, whether it's used for a discounted landline, cell phone service, or home internet connection.

  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement to qualify for the Lifeline program.

  • The Lifeline program is funded by fees collected by certain telecommunications providers.

  • Lifeline service through Gen Mobile does not require a contract and can be renewed annually with a simple recertification process so long as you stay eligible and use your service once every 30 days.


How to Enroll in Lifeline 

To enroll in the Lifeline benefit, you need to find a Lifeline service provider like Gen Mobile. At Gen Mobile, eligible customers may receive free smartphone service that includes high-speed data, talk, and text. 

Simply complete the online Lifeline application form with your personal information and proof of qualification. If you are qualified for free phone service through Lifeline, expect your free phone service to be shipped directly to you within 7-10 business days. With Gen Mobile, there are no credit checks or contracts to worry about.

Learn more about Lifeline and apply for your free phone service today through Gen Mobile.

What About the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)? Is It Ending?

Much like the Lifeline program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was designed to provide internet service to low-income and tribal households at a lower cost. It was launched in December 2021, building on the Emergency Broadband Benefit program that was put in place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the program has not been reauthorized by Congress. If you are a former Affordable Connectivity Program participant, you may be eligible for service under the Lifeline program. Complete the online Lifeline application form to see if you qualify for free phone service from Gen Mobile. 

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Find out if you qualify for the Lifelne!

June 26, 2024 by Richard Ouyang

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