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Assurance Wireless Provides Cell Phones and Wireless Service to Aid Minnesota Residents Facing Economic Hardship

Today, Assurance Wireless, which provides a wireless phone and 250 free voice minutes and 250 free text messages to eligible residents, introduces its services in Minnesota. Assurance Wireless is a Lifeline Assistance program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund and now offers the best value in calling plans among major Lifeline Assistance programs.2

More than 165,0003 Minnesota residents are without a job, and more than 194 percent are living below the federal poverty line. Assurance Wireless gives eligible customers the ability to provide a contact number and return calls to a prospective employer, which can help improve the chances of securing employment.

According to a nationwide survey from Assurance Wireless5, adults with an income of less than $25,000 are as likely to use their mobile phone for employment searches as those with higher incomes. Data collected by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Chronicle for Higher Educations Urban Institute, showed that the rate of graduates with doctoral degrees who have filed for government assistance more than tripled between 2007 and 20106. According to a report, “If all 28.5 million adults eligible for Lifeline Assistance were to take advantage of the program and earn at the same rate and level as [the study] sample, it would result in $3.7 billion in fresh income for the poor and near poor.”7

“As Assurance Wireless has been approved to offer service in more states, we are proud to help more and more customers stay connected to potential employers, medical and childcare providers,” said Grace Boehm, director of strategy and business planning, Assurance Wireless. “We look forward to providing this same type of assistance to eligible Minnesota residents who need support and resources during what continue to be rough economic times for many.”

“I was unemployed for an extended amount of time due to layoffs,” stated Evan M., 37, an Assurance Wireless customer. “The phone and service I received from Assurance Wireless were invaluable to my finding new employment and to my efforts to recover from this recession. It allowed me to contact potential employers and provide a way for them to respond to me, while also saving money. Assurance also gave me peace of mind that I had a way to stay connected to my kids while away from home.”

The Lifeline Assistance program is available for only one wireline or wireless account per household. Enrollment in this government benefit program is available to consumers who meet federal or state-specific eligibility criteria. Minnesota residents may qualify for Assurance Wireless if they are on certain public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and National School Lunch’s Free Lunch Program (NSL). Applicants may also qualify based on low income and must provide proof of program participation or proof of income. Eligibility for Assurance Wireless varies by state.

In addition to a voice mail account8 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Applicants are also able to keep their current home or cell phone number. Beyond the 250 free voice minutes and 250 text messages each month, customers can choose from other options to pay for additional minutes, texting, international calling and more at competitive rates.

Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171 or visiting www.assurancewireless.com.

People who don’t qualify for Assurance Wireless but who are also struggling and searching for value can take advantage of payLo by Virgin Mobile. payLo was especially designed with value-conscious wireless consumers in mind, offering plans for as little as $20/month for 400 minutes or access to 90 days of service for $20 at a rate of less than $7 per month. payLo is available retail stores nationwide, including Best Buy, RadioShack and Target. Prospective low-income customers who find they are not eligible for Assurance Wireless may learn more about Virgin Mobile’s no-contract payLo Plan options by visiting http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/paylo-plans/overview/.

Assurance Wireless is also available in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This list of states continues to expand and can be found on the Assurance website.

About Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless from Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint’s no-contract brands, is supported by the Lifeline Assistance program, part of the Low Income Program of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Assurance Wireless provides service on the Nationwide Sprint Network, which reaches more than 282 million people.

Follow Assurance news on Facebook www.facebook.com/assurancewireless or on Twitter www.twitter.com/assurancecell and YouTube http://www.youtube.com/assurancewireless.

Offer limited to eligible customers (varies by state) residing in selected geographic areas and is non-transferrable. Assurance Wireless is subject to the Terms of Service (includes plan details) found on http://www.assurancewireless.com/Public/TermsandConditions.aspx.

Note: Sources for all information and statistics are available upon request.

1 http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29snapcurrpp.htm
2 Based on published price plans as of 11/26/2012 of major Lifeline carriers with more than 1M subscribers who provide service in more than 20 states.
3 http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.mn.htm
4 http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_1YR_S1701&prodType=table
5 PKS Research Partners was commissioned by Sprint/Nextel (Assurance Wireless) to conduct a research project among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults 25 years or older in order to determine their attitudes toward and usage of mobile phones.
6 http://chronicle.com/article/From-Graduate-School-to/131795/
7 A study titled “Subsidized Cell Phones Provide Significant Economic Gains for Poor and Near-Poor Americans” was published by the New Millennium Research Council.
8 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.

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