California latest state to join federal program giving free cell phones to poor | WashingtonGuardian California latest state to join federal program giving free cell phones to poor. The funding comes from Lifeline Assistance, one of four federally mandated Universal Service Fund programs that provide landline, cellular and Internet service to the underprivileged. A monthly fee collected from each paying telephone subscriber underwrites the cost for the cell phone vendor. Lifeline has generated the most controversy in recent years. It now helps 17 million households nationwide, more than doubling in the last four years with 10 million new beneficiaries. Telephone providers give away free cell phones with monthly minutes prepaid by the federal Universal Service Fund fees. The telephone companies are permitted to recoup their costs by charging additional fees to their paying customers. In order to qualify for the new taxpayers funded cell phone program, applicants must meet annual income guidelines of $14,702 or less. Additionally, the program doesn't require the recipient to have an address to receive a service statement. They simply must show proof of federal assistance such as Medicaid or food stamps.What a joke,so you could possibly have 50 million on welfare get a free phone. Another forced down your throat you have no say in it out of control Raping of your wallets. 17 million and counting get free phones on your dime, The freebies never stop-you might be better off quiting your job and get on the Government gravy train-all aboard.