Georgia Free Government Phones for Low-Income

Free government phones help low-income residents in Georgia.  You may qualify for this benefit if you receive assistance from a free government agency.  Budget Mobile is one of the providers servicing the state.


The point of the free government phone is to help the poor. That is why they are “free!”  That may change in one state.  The state has decided to stop the no-cost government phone program in Georgia.  Now recipients of the Lifeline program will pay $5 a month for the cell phone service they receive free.

How the FCC Helps

The Telecommunication Trade Association has challenged this fee by filing a lawsuit.  Georgia Public Service Commissioner Everett stated the fee began as a measure to stop fraud widespread in the program.  But will $5 stop fraud when people still get $40 worth of phone service for $5?  The Lifeline Assistance program expanded to include landlines and cell phones in 1985.

Presently most free cell phone providers give up to 250 minutes of talk and text a month.  There is also the option to purchase more time and upgrade phones.  Each household gets one phone, but this has not been the case.  There have been cases of people receiving multiple phones and selling phones.

Georgia Free Cell Phones

These new fees will go to the phone companies and not fill Georgia coffers.   Time will tell if this $5 a month rule will set a persistent for other states to follow.  If the FCC does not crack down on phone companies, the $5 fee will be meaningless.  There is still fraud on the part of telecommunications companies.   Some phone companies in the program are still not screening applicants properly and padding the number of new applicants enrolled.

Commission Everett stated the number of poor in Georgia receiving free government phones has jumped 7-fold in the last ten years.  The $5 fee won’t be a hardship to all recipients of the free government phones, but there are always exceptions.  The fee is due to begin this year (2013) on the 31st of January.

The cell phone industry association CTIA feels the additional fee is like the government “setting cell phone rates.”  They have no authority to set cell phone rates!   Also, now phone companies will have to send monthly bills to recipients to collect fees.   The telecommunications companies complain the fee will not even cover the new costs of mailing out monthly bills.  CTIA will continue to press the issue in court.

Helping or Hurting?

Spokeswoman Liz Coyle for Georgia Watch, a non-profit group, stated that this fee will cause undue hardship on the poor who have not committed fraud.  So, is it a matter that Georgia wants to stop fraud or punish the poor?   The government has to pass laws that will create jobs for those who need to work and increase the minimum wage.

Many hard-working individuals are receiving free cell phones.  Free government phones are like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg, but as long as the lack of jobs and low-wage paying jobs persist, there will be a need for these government services.

These providers offer free cell phones in Georgia:

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