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Phone bill discounts available in Florida

3:13 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
People line up to apply for the Lifeline Assistance program in Tallahassee.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- You may be eligible for a discount on your phone service and not know it. So Florida is trying to get the word out about the Lifeline Assistance program.

Phone companies handed out applications in Tallahassee Thursday as part of a new campaign to raise awareness about the Lifeline program.

It offers a discount of more than $100 a year to income-eligible customers.

Some companies actually give you a free phone and free minutes if your income qualifies. Assurance Wireless is one company that offers a free phone, plus 250 minutes and 250 texts for free each month with no annual contract.

Florida's Public Service Commission Chairman Ronald Brise says the state and nation want to make sure everyone has access to telephone service.

"Why do we need telephone service. If you're looking for a job you need telephone service. If you have an emergency you need telephone service. If you need to contact government services, you also need telephone service."

The Lifeline program grew about 10 percent in Florida over the past year. But even with that growth, only about 55 percent of Floridians who qualify for the program are signed up.

Federal law requires phone companies to offer the discount and companies are allowed to pass on the cost to other customers.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, hopes Floridians spread the word about Lifeline because he says it's a wonderful program for families who need a little help.

"What we need to recognize is that the world has changed. There's such a tremendous pressure for all people, especially our young people in schools, they've got to have access to telecommunications to be able to survive in this world."

The five companies with the majority of Lifeline customers in Florida are SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon.


Dave Heller

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