Millions of Americans on low-income, including those receiving unemployment benefits amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may qualify to receive a free smartphone, in addition to free cell service, under a new government partnership with TruConnect, a nationwide wireless service provider.
TruConnect has partnered with Lifeline, a government program offering affordable wireless service to low-income customers launched by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, which most Americans don’t know about, according to the co-founder and chief executive officer of TruConnect, Matthew Johnson.
TruConnect’s free service includes “talk, text, and 3GB of data each month plus free international calling to select countries. You may even qualify for a free 5″ LTE Android smartphone,” the company website states.
Johnson told California’s KTLA: “Currently, there are roughly 30 to 40 million people who don’t have access to high-speed internet and that’s only increased recently with the issues due to COVID-19.
Like many low-income families across the city, Brice didn’t have the budget for a high-speed internet connection, which can range anywhere from $30 to $100 a month depending on the quality.
“These are the things that make the difference between clean clothes and food,” Brice said. “Having cell phone access was more important.”
Brice was fortunate. Her employer wound up covering the cost of the family’s internet connection, and many schools provided students with a laptop or tablet to take home.
But as the lack of a reliable internet connection moves rapidly from being an inconvenience to a threat to one’s livelihood, momentum is growing in cities around the country to offer affordable – or free – Wi-Fi to residents.
In Providence, the first organization to step up with a plan was ONE Neighborhood Builders, a community development organization known primarily for building affordable housing, which is hoping to launch