You are here:>Collections

Virgin Mobile Offers Free Cellphones To Low-Income State Residents

January 05, 2011|By JANICE PODSADA,, The Hartford Courant

Virgin Mobile USA, a division of Sprint Nextel, said Wednesday it will offer free wireless phone service to low-income residents in Connecticut.

Adults 18 and older who already qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing or other state and federal programs may be eligible for the new program.

Assurance Wireless, a Virgin Mobile brand, will provide eligible recipients with a cellphone and 250 free minutes of wireless voice service each month, Sprint spokesman Jack Pflanz said.


The program is a continuation of a federal subsidy, started in the 1980s, which required the old phone companies to make landline service available to everyone, including low-income consumers.

All telephone providers, including wireless phone service providers, must contribute to the federal government's Universal Service Fund. The amount is based on a percentage of a phone provider's interstate and worldwide revenues. Companies can recover their contributions by passing the charges on to customers, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

"The purpose of universal service is to make sure that everyone has access to phone service," said Mark Wigfield, an FCC spokesman.

An estimated 107,000 Connecticut residents are expected to qualify for the program.

"The service is indefinite until they no longer qualify," Pflanz said.

Virgin's free cellphone program is now active in 19 states, including Connecticut.

To apply, call Assurance Wireless at 800-395-2171 or visit

Hartford Courant Articles