The Obama-Phone Is Back … But This Time It’s Real!

The Obama-Phone Is Back – But This Time It’s Real (ZeroHedge, Dec 10, 2012):

While some saw the clip of the lady implying ‘victory for Obama means phones for everyone’ as perhaps exaggerated out-of-context right-wing propaganda – as that would be preposterous right? – it appears San Francisco took it a little more serious. As SFGate reports, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to approve (within a couple of weeks) a plan to offer homeless and other poor people in California ‘virtually free cell phones and service’. The plan is funded through the federal LifeLine program and is designed to enable these individuals to ‘keep in touch with family, potential employers and others crucial to improving their lives’. “This is great – it is transformative for homeless and low-income people,” said San Francisco’s head of homeless initiatives, adding that, fundamentally, to be in the mainstream of our society you have to have a phone.” Setting up the program in California has been no easy task, officials said. “I would prefer it to be free…” said Dufty, and said he would explore other funding sources. Perhaps worth remembering the cost of kidding ourselves once again.

Via SFGate:

Homeless and other poor people in California are on track to soon get virtually free cell phones and service so they can keep in touch with family, potential employers and others crucial to improving their lives.

The cell phones would be handed out through a federally funded Lifeline program – already operated by service provider Assurance Wireless in 36 other states – that is likely to win final approval in the next couple of weeks from the California Public Utilities Commission.

State PUC officials have been reviewing the Lifeline proposal from Assurance Wireless for three years. Word came Thursday that all but a minor detail had been approved, ending years of effort by advocates for homeless people.

“This is great – it is transformative for homeless and low-income people,” said Bevan Dufty, San Francisco’s head of homeless initiatives,

“Fundamentally, to be in the mainstream of our society you have to have a phone,” he said. “And really, for the homeless population, you need a cell phone because they don’t have a home to hard-wire one into. We really need this plan.”

The state’s decades-old Lifeline program, like those all over the country, pays for all but a few dollars of the monthly phone bill for poor people, generally meaning those whose annual income is below $14,702. But until now, California’s PUC rules only authorized Lifeline service for “wireline” phones, meaning traditional phones wired into residences – and those rules didn’t authorize anything for free.

Getting set up not easy

Setting up the program in California has been no easy task, officials said.

Approval of the cell phone program came Thursday from the telecommunications specialists at the CPUC, which oversees the state’s Lifeline plans.

“We’re very excited,” said Jayne Wallace, an Assurance Wireless spokeswoman. “We know from experience this can make a big difference in people’s lives.”

Cost of program

Assurance Wireless first offered its free cell phone proposal to the CPUC in 2009 and got tentative clearance in 2011. It has been a slow process since.

 

Immediately, however, the customer will be rolled into Assurance Wireless’ Lifeline plan, which will provide 250 free minutes of talk time and 250 free text messages per month. The customer will then get the initial $20 back as a credit to be used whenever he or she exceeds the talk and text limits.

“I would prefer it to be free, but this at least opens the door,” said Dufty. He said he would explore if other funding sources could backfill the up-front $20 charge.

2 thoughts on “The Obama-Phone Is Back … But This Time It’s Real!

  1. The isolation and poverty of homelessness is beyond belief. I see them on street corners, in shopping centers, everywhere. ANYTHING that might help alliviate it, I am for it. We can waste trillions in corporate enriching wars while our own people have seen wages drop over 40% over the past decade. Without a phone, these people have no way to get messages to get a job….it is a downward flush that washes away millions more every year. We need to take care of our own people, the hell with the middle east or anyplace else.
    I heard that homelessness has stablilzed. What does that mean? It means the problem is continuing, and there are no solutions coming from our corrupt and mindless leaders in congress. Americans are waking up, and I see a movement towards the center finally coming…..and it cannot come soon enough.
    I am advanced in years, have a terminal illness that will soon end my life, and I am not unhappy about it any longer. I was for quite some time…….but realized I will be missing a lot of social upheaval, and total chaos. I look around me today, and can barely recognize the America I grew up in. Our laws are as corrupt and mindless as the fools crafting them, and we have hit the tipping point.
    Yes, giving everyone phones also gives the government other avenues to track those they cannot currently….the homeless. On the other hand, as things are, their lives are without hope.
    I have no answers, but I know from a lifetime of studying history that hunger and poverty are the things that destroyed greater empires than our’s. It always happens when people stop paying attention and let the government run itself.
    Thanks for being such a great news source.

  2. I agree with the above responding individual. Cell phones for the homeless is such a small price to pay to eaze some of the suffering our less fortunate people endure. We need to pull back from giving and giving to countries that hate us and start to help our own. Charity begins at home, not in the rest of the mindless world. I am all for this concept and hope it actualizes in the immediate future. Keep up the good work of reporting these activities to us. Thank you

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