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Report: $3.7 Billion in Income Could Be Generated for the Poor by Making Lifeline-Subsidized Free Cell Phones Available to All Eligible Americans

Two Thirds of a Billion Dollars in Personal Income Lost in States – Including CA, CO, HI, MT, NE, ND, OK, SD, VT and WY – Without Access to Program for Their Poorest Citizens.

WASHINGTON Feb. 10, 2011 $4 billion

"Subsidized Cell Phones Provide Significant Economic Gains for Poor and Near-Poor Americans," Nicholas P. Sullivan "… $259 $3.7 billion New York Florida California $250 million

February 2011

District of Columbia Puerto Rico California Colorado Hawaii Montana Nebraska North Dakota Oklahoma South Dakota Vermont Wyoming $650 million

Nicholas P. Sullivan Fletcher School "To date, only 35 states have allowed Lifeline Assistance for prepaid cell phones, which means that the remaining 15 states are both limiting the ability of their poorest to earn money — and also adding to their own state-funded liabilities for social programs.  At a time when states are strapped and suffering from a range of deficit liabilities, new income on this level should be a welcome outcome."

Samuel A. Simon "Lifeline-supported wireless cell phone service for poor Americans appears from this study to be exactly what advocates of universal access to telecommunications services had in mind when the Universal Service Fund (USF) was created.  Unlike other USF programs that have been criticized for lining the pockets of telecommunications companies with unnecessary subsidies, wireless Lifeline aid is highly targeted and, at very low cost, goes right into the hands of the American consumers who most need this assistance in finding work or keeping their existing job."

Other key findings from the Sullivan report include the following:

  • $259 $300
  • $5 billion
    $489.1 million California $307.6 million Colorado $40.1 million Hawaii $9.3 million Montana $13.1 million Nebraska $21.5 million North Dakota $10.4 million Oklahoma $60.7 million $11.6 million Vermont $7.5 million Wyoming $7.3 million
  • $1.2 billion $360 million $388 million
  • The question of how subsidized phones impact the poor has recently taken on more urgency given the lingering and deep recession.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 44 million Americans are now considered to be living in poverty (2009 data), the highest number in poverty in the 51 years this number has been tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau.

$10 Washington, D.C. Puerto Rico

Fletcher School You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World’s Poor to the Global Economy ( March 2008 " Cell Phones Provide Significant Economic Gains for Low-Income American Households," $2.9 billion

Washington, D.C.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf [email protected]

EDITOR’S NOTE: 5 p.m. EST February 10, 2011

Washington, D.C. Nicholas P. Sullivan Medford, MA

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