Lifeline Across America

September is the time of year when we highlight Lifeline and its sister program, Link Up. These programs are available to help folks who are having trouble paying their phone bills because their incomes are low.

It seems hard to believe, but back in July 2006, the Federal Communications Commission determined that approximately 6.3 million households across the country—or 5.4 percent of the entire U.S. population—did not have telephones.  Often this is because they do not have the money to pay for the initial installation or to keep up with monthly bills. With unemployment over 9%, the number is probably higher today.

So while most Americans are using their phone lines to connect to the Internet, shop, chat and send pictures, some residents do not even have the ability to call their family, their next-door neighbor, or 911.

Lifeline and Link Up are here to help. Under the federal Lifeline program, telephone customers who participate in or are eligible for certain public assistance programs are entitled to receive a basic telephone service discount of at least $10 per month. In Missouri, Lifeline assistance provides discounts of up to $13.50 a month. The discount is limited to one per subscriber.  Link-Up provides a 50% reduction in the telephone service installation charge, up to a maximum of $30, for qualifying households that do not currently have telephone service. For more information, go to http://www.ktis.net/phone_home_assistance.php.

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