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June 16, 2009 at 08:00 AM EDT
TracFone Wireless Launches SafeLink Wireless® to Aid 63,237 Low-Income Households in the District of Columbia

Today, TracFone Wireless, Inc., America’s leading prepaid cell phone provider announced its launch of SafeLink Wireless® in the District of Columbia. SafeLink Wireless is the first and only completely free offering of Lifeline – a U.S. government supported program for income eligible households that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for eligible low-income households.

The SafeLink Wireless service will provide eligible low-income households a free cell phone, mobile access to emergency services and free 55 minutes of airtime, monthly, for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, call waiting, international calling to over 60 destinations and caller ID.

“Over 63,000 households in D.C. qualify for the Lifeline services – offering these participants the opportunity to have the same access and privileges many individuals take for granted when it comes to using cell phones,” said Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone. “The SafeLink Wireless service is truly unique because we are providing a service that no other company has made available before – a free cell phone and free monthly minutes to qualifying low income families,” added Fuentes. SafeLink Wireless offers low-income families accessibility, freedom and the security in knowing that should an emergency occur – wherever they are, they will stay safe and stay connected.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Lifeline program in 1984 and worked to update the service after the crises of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the tragedy of September 11th. At the dawn of the 21st century, modern universal telephone service is necessary not only to ensure that the U.S. maintains a rapid, efficient, nationwide communications network, it is important for the purpose of national defense and to promote safety of life and property. By approving the SafeLink Wireless program, the FCC took action to enhance its Lifeline program and keep the right to communicate in pace with technology.

The Funding and Delivery of Lifeline

Lifeline is part of the Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. Over 1700 carriers are eligible to provide the program but TracFone is the first pre-paid company to have elevated the program to modern day communications. The Lifeline program is not funded from federal taxpayer dollars, but rather from contributions to the USF by telecommunications carriers collected in part from the Universal Service Charge billed to cell phone users.

By FCC design, telephone carriers deliver Lifeline assistance to low-income communities and traditionally, Lifeline customers receive a simple discount on their monthly landline telephone bill. The SafeLink program reshapes the Lifeline model by applying the USF subsidy towards a wireless minute allocation that becomes free monthly airtime for the customer. As TracFone provides the mobile handset at its own expense and does not require contracts or monthly bills, SafeLink customers now have access to a completely free offering of the Lifeline program.

If a customer wishes to use additional minutes beyond their monthly allotment, minutes can be added through prepaid SafeLink airtime cards and TracFone airtime cards that can be purchased at local retailers. The prepaid feature gives customers the freedom to control the cost of their monthly telephone expense. Unused minutes do not expire and automatically rollover.

Program Eligibility

To qualify for Lifeline in the District of Columbia, a household must participate in one of the following:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
  • Food Stamps
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • National School Lunch (free program only)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicaid
  • Or if the Total Household Income is at or under 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (submitted documentation will be required as proof)

The SafeLink Wireless service will be provided to low-income families for up to one year, with one person per household receiving the free cell phone and benefits. Participants may renew service and will be required to re-submit eligibility documentation upon their year completion. If the participant no longer qualifies for this free service, they will be notified and will be able to keep the cell phone to continue enjoying the benefits as a regular TracFone customer. Existing TracFone customers qualifying for the SafeLink Wireless service may keep their current cell phone, and receive bonus minutes (one-time bonus only) for choosing to keep their current cell phone.

To learn more about the SafeLink Wireless service, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-SAFELINK (1-800-723-3546), or visit www.safelink.com.

ABOUT TRACFONE WIRELESS, INC.

TracFone Wireless, Inc. is America's number one prepaid wireless service in the U.S. with more than 10 million cell phone subscribers. TracFone is a subsidiary of América Móvil, S.A.B. de C.V. (“AMX”) (BMV: AMX; NYSE: AMX; Nasdaq: AMOV; LATIBEX: XAMXL), the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America with more than 153 million cell phone subscribers. For more information, please visit: www.tracfone.com.

Contacts:

for SafeLink Wireless
Rolando Rodriguez, 210-316-0744
rolando@interlexusa.com
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