Poor in Colorado may get free phones | VailDaily.com

Poor in Colorado may get free phones

David Migoya
The Denver Post

Thousands of low-income Coloradans reliant on public assistance could get a free cellphone under a plan before the state Public Utilities Commission.

If approved, the plan by TracFone Wireless in Miami would make Colorado the 17th state it has settled into with free cell service for the indigent, a form of wireless welfare that proponents say taps into one of the last untapped markets for the telecom technology.

“Our hope is to have it up and running by September,” said Jose Fuentes, TracFone’s director of government relations. “Historically, it’s a very underutilized service, and we’d like that to change.”

The program is a twist on Lifeline, a long-standing federal subsidy that provides low-income families with a break on their land-line telephone bill in order to ensure emergency 911 service.

In Colorado, it’s called LITAP – the Low Income Telephone Assistance Program – and is available to anyone receiving aid from any of six welfare funds: Colorado Works Assistance (TANF), Supplemental Security Income, LEAP, Aid to Needy Disabled, the Old Age Pension Fund and Aid to the Blind.

Statewide, about 65 percent of those eligible participated in Lifeline last year.

For more of this Denver Post story: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12838433

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