Monday, March 04, 2013

Phones now - laptops soon. To infinity and beyond.

Free cellphones available for California resident on SSI, Medicaid and food stamps.

"California residents who receive Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance or who earn less than $15,000 per year can receive free cellphones and service as of today."

No one here is surprised. Right? Okay - I know I have to work harder to narrow an eyebrow here. Soooooo.

I was sort of curious how they pay for this. Especially when I read this.

"Roughly 4.6 million California households, including 200,000 from Sacramento, could be eligible for the Lifeline program, based on estimates by Assurance."

Sure, I know all these phones are going to be recyclers, but they are still providing service! Well, it turns out the government extorts cell phone providers to pay into a fund. They should call it the cell phone extortion fund, but it is really called the Universal Service Fund which caught my attention right away. I've never heard of it. But this is wikipedia says about it.

"The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1997 to meet Congressional universal service goals as mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The 1996 Act states that all providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner; there should be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service; all schools, classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should, generally, have access to advanced telecommunications services; ****and finally, that the Federal-State Joint Board and the FCC should determine those other principles that, consistent with the 1996 Act, are necessary to protect the public interest ****"

Emphasis mine.


One Reader said...

If you check out your cell phone bill you will notice that one of the taxes corresponds with the fund that pays for this service. Yay!
I read about this last year at some point and rather than tag any specific article I googled:
cell taxes pay for free access

she said: said...

I knew there was some tax to get the internet to rural areas - I just didn't know it was so vague.

The government has always provided a free landline to low income people - but telephone service costs were never this crazy.