The federal "Lifeline" program has been in existence for decades now since 1984 under the Reagan Administration. It was a program created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and was later enhanced with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The project provides quality yet affordable telecommunication services to low-income earners by reducing the monthly charges as designed by the FCC's Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund and administered by The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

This program does not provide "free cell phones" as what is currently circulating on the internet through email and blog sites. Some independent sites such as ( also clarified this matter which clearly states: "Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it."

Thanks to ObamaPhone, Lifeline support is now available for wireless phones whereas before, the discount was only applicable on a consumer's landline telephone bill. ObamaPhone Wireless has just been recently approved by the FCC to subsidize the Universal Service Fund to allot free airtime minutes. Instead of receiving subsidized monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, ObamaPhone converts the total amount of discounted service into minutes each month for one year for cell phone features such as text, voicemail, three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID, and access to 911.

As what was clarified early on, ObamaPhone units are shouldered by telecom companies and not by the federal government. ObamaPhone aims to expand its scope for all Americans to avail reasonable rates. As of October 2009, it caters to more than 2 million subscribers in 36 states namely: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Today, there are over 1,700 companies in the United States currently providing discounted telephone service.

The ObamaPhone is certainly a great service to avail of, however, there are certain eligibility requirements that should be met to qualify. These may vary from state to state but in general, individuals may pass if they participate in a public assistance program such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), National Free School Lunch, Federal Housing/Section 8 Assistance, or if they do not receive any of these public assistance programs, they may also qualify based on total household gross monthly income. Customers can learn more or apply by calling 1-800-ObamaPhone or visiting

Your exact benefits, including the number of free Minutes you will receive, depend on the state you live in.