Freebie phones everywhere

Thanks to the federal Lifeline Universal Service program — you helped pay via an extra line of charges on your own bill — freebie cellphones now abound in many American cities, with 231,000 having been given away in Maryland alone [Fox Baltimore via Amy Alkon]


  • Is this the same program that sends $10 tracfones to impoverished old people so they can keep in touch with their doctor appointments?

    The story is confusing — if this is paid for by a surcharge on cell phone bills, how does it cost the government anything?

  • So pleased that my own government is stealing money from me for this. Everyone, no matter how poor, deserves to have an equal technological capability to facilitate Craigslist drug deals, organize flash-mob store invasions, and post YouTube videos of random attacks on pedestrians.

  • We have a state funded program here that does the same thing. I can’t see it ever being that much of an issue. They pay $20, which is less than land line service, offer only dumb (I saw plenty of fancy phones in that video, people get a flip here) phones, disalow any additional features, and prohibit bundling on subsidized lines. I actually qualify for the program, but with the bundling restriction I would end up paying more by dropping my cell service. The issue is when the feds get involved, with anything, there’s always excessive overhead, waste, and fraud. Although if this is just for 911 service I fail to see why an active cell is necessary, any cell phone (from what I understand) can connect to 911 even if it’s not active.