Lifeline provider Life Wireless notches 1 millionth customer

Life Wireless, which provides mobile services to low-income consumers through the federal Lifeline program, said it signed its 1 millionth subscriber.

An MVNO that reportedly runs on AT&T's network, Life Wireless offers services in 29 states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Lifeline program was established by Congress in 1985 to provide phone services to users who earn no more than 135 percent of the federal poverty level.

Life Wireless, which touts its "meticulous subscriber verification process," claims to be the third-largest wireless Lifeline subscriber in the U.S. The company offers free handsets and basic wireless services to qualifying consumers, and in December it began offering 500 monthly minutes of service, doubling its previous offer.

"We are incredibly proud of our growth over these past five years, and our success in helping provide this vital service to low-income subscribers," Life Wireless President William Curry said in a prepared statement. "This milestone is a testament to our commitment to service, rigor in our processes, and strength of our business practices."

Lifeline was initially established only to provide phone services, but the FCC voted last year to expand the program to include support for broadband. And today Reuters reported that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will issue a final proposal seeking approval for a $9.25 monthly subsidy for low-income Americans to get broadband Internet access. While the move has largely been applauded, some mobile carriers are concerned they'll receive less funding under new rules.

Sprint last week urged the FCC to give Lifeline subscribers the option of applying the program's subsidies to either voice or broadband service, saying end-user co-pays for broadband severely limit participation in the system. AT&T and Verizon were among 23 companies that voiced support last week for an overhaul of Lifeline in an open letter to the FCC. Sprint was not among that group.

For more:
- see this Life Wireless press release

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