State Assembly Reconvenes And Advances California LifeLine Improvements As Part Of Statewide COVID-19 Relief Strategy

AB 3079 Will Open Up Free Wireless to More Californians, Require Additional Reporting on Enrollment

LOS ANGELES, CA, MAY 7, 2020—On Tuesday, the California State Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance approved Assembly Bill 3079 on a 9-0 vote to improve the California Lifeline program by making low-income phone services available to even more eligible participants.

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), will make it easier for those who receive free wireless services to remain in the Lifeline program and allow even more eligible Californians to participate. The bill also requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to provide additional reporting on Lifeline participation, including zip-code level enrollment and renewal, to increase Lifeline enrollment from its current 5-year low.

Over 60% of those eligible for free wireless services through Lifeline have yet to participate, leaving more than 4.5 million residents disconnected from this vital resource. Moreover, only 30% of participants are able to annually re-certify their enrollment due to administrative hurdles, while most other states re-certify up to 90% of their Lifeline customers. In March, Truconnect and low-income advocates successfully petitioned the CPUC to waive the re-certification burden on participants during the coronavirus pandemic.

TruConnect, the only California-based Lifeline service provider, applauded the vote as a critical action to address the needs of vulnerable residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

"California cannot close the digital divide without addressing the millions of low-income residents who lack access to free mobile broadband services or, even worse, who pay for services they do not have to," said TruConnect Co-CEO Nathan Johnson. "We applaud Asssemblymember Garcia and the Committee on Communications and Conveyance for this necessary first step to expand California Lifeline and better connect our communities to educational, health, and financial resources during this extremely challenging time."

Last week, anti-poverty leaders including the Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Community Economic Development Association, California Reinvestment Coalition, Public Interest Law Project, Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero, and the East Bay Community Law Center wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom and state legislators proposing strategies to increase Lifeline enrollment to 90-100% participation from its current low of less than 40%.

The California Public Utilities Commission administers California Lifeline in order to provide affordable mobile phone services to eligible households through certified providers.

TruConnect provides California LifeLine service to more than 240,000 Californians most impacted by the coronavirus across the state. TruConnect is the state's only LifeLine carrier that provides participants with a free 4G/LTE smartphone and access to hotspots built on WiFi technology that enables broadband learning and telehealth. TruConnect phones are loaded with food security apps to access CalFresh, free lunch programs and foodbanks, with links to health resources and e-learning solutions for non-profit charities. Earlier in the month, all TruConnect customers received a text message with a link to apply for state unemployment benefits through their phone.

Unfortunately, the LifeLine has historically been underfunded and inadequately supported, with a 2019 California Legislative Analyst's Office report noting that "program enrollment increased significantly after adding wireless in 2014, but then leveled off in 2016 and has been declining in recent years." The report recommended a series of reforms, including "a statewide marketing and outreach plan to help improve overall program awareness among eligible households" that has not yet materialized.

Free mobile telephone and broadband service during the Shelter-In-Place order is available through TruConnect's website, www.truconnect.com. Applicants who meet low-income eligibility requirements will receive a free phone through the mail and be able to stay connected throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

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About TruConnect
Founded in 2011, TruConnect has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing provider of Lifeline wireless telecommunications services, expanding into over 30 states in the past two years TruConnect strives to provide affordable & flexible technology solutions to low-income communities and budget-conscious consumers, helping to bring us closer to closing the digital divide. To learn more, visit us at www.truconnect.com .

Media Contact:
Name: Lucy Sung
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Phone: 213-379-5145
Email address: lsung@truconnect.com

What is Lifeline?

Lifeline is a government program that subsidizes discounted phone service for low-income consumers, ensuring everyone can stay in touch. TruConnect is currently designated to provide free Lifeline-supported phone service in numerous states across the U.S., with more coming soon. The Lifeline program is only available to eligible consumers who can provide documentation for eligibility. Only one Lifeline service is allowed per household regardless of a type of phone. To be qualified for Lifeline, you must be currently enrolled in a qualified public assistance program (i.e. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, etc.) or you can be qualified if your total annual household income is less than the qualified income guidelines.

Mobile Broadband

TruConnect is a mobile broadband company and a cheap wireless internet provider that offers wireless internet services and mobile WiFi hotspots through the Internet on the Go. TruConnect provides an underserved market with prepaid and wireless internet services such as Lifeline (ETC), Wireless Prepaid, and Mobile broadband solutions such as mobile WiFi hotspots. We have a variety of mobile broadband devices ranging from cell phones and 4G smartphones to mobile WiFi hotspot devices and tablets. Our coverage includes a 4G network for nationwide wireless internet.

Why TruConnect?

We are a group of wireless industry veterans who have spent many years bringing new mobile products and services to consumers in the U.S. We understand your frustration with expensive monthly data plans, so we came up with an easy, honest, and convenient way to stay connected to the world with TruConnect Pay As You Go and Lifeline plans, and with our affordable Internet on the Go mobile broadband plans and hotspots. Individual usage varies from month to month, so we designed our flexible plans to fit your everyday needs. To learn more about Internet on the Go, please visit www.internet-go.com.

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