WARREN, N.J. - February 15, 2011 - Today, Assurance Wireless, a cell phone service from Virgin Mobile that provides a free wireless phone and 250 free minutes of wireless voice service monthly to eligible customers, launches in Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported1 that the percentage of Americans living in poverty increased by 14.3 percent in 2009 -- the highest rate of poverty in 15 years. An additional 4 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 44 million.
More than 5.5 million Pennsylvania residents are currently without a job and more than 17.5 percent are living below the federal poverty line. Assurance Wireless gives eligible customers the ability to provide a contact number and return calls to a prospective employer, which, studies show, can improve the chances of securing employment as well as provide a simple way to stay connected to family in case of emergencies.
"As a Pennsylvania resident myself, I know the tough times that many in the state continue to face," said Dave Trimble, vice president for Assurance Wireless. "With unemployment still such a challenge, I am so glad that we are able to now help eligible customers with Assurance Wireless in Pennsylvania."
According to a nationwide survey from Assurance Wireless*, adults with an income of less than $25,000 are as likely to use their mobile phone for employment searches as those with higher incomes.
"Programs like Assurance are so important for helping individuals and families stay on, or get back on, their feet and succeed in these difficult financial times," explained business columnist and personal finance expert Louis Barajas.
"I was unemployed for an extended amount of time due to layoffs," stated Evan M., 37, an Assurance Wireless customer from Maryland. "The free phone and service I received from Assurance Wireless was invaluable to my finding new employment and to my efforts to recover from this recession. It allowed me to contact potential employers and provide a way for them to respond to me, while also saving money needed to provide for my family. Assurance also gave me peace of mind that I had a way to stay connected to my kids while away from home."
Assurance Wireless has also introduced more choices to give its customers the opportunity to pay to add voice minutes and text messaging to their free wireless service. The core offer remains the same: 250 minutes of free talk time, a free phone with the ability to buy additional minutes or texts at 10 cents each. The $5 Talk offer increases the amount of minutes available each month to 500; the $20 Talk & Text offer increases the minutes to 1,000 and adds 1,000 text messages. The new offers include a Service Protector feature which ensures that the basic 250 free minutes are guaranteed each month a customer is eligible, even if a customer cannot pay the additional dollars during a particular month. These new offers are available to all Assurance Wireless subscribers.
In addition to voice mail2 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the free 250 voice minutes, customers can pay for additional 10-cent-per-minute domestic calling, 10-cent text, e-mail or instant messages, international calling at competitive rates, and more.3
Customers eligible for Assurance Wireless include those who participate in Medicaid, Food Stamps/SNAP, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), General Assistance, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program. Customers may also qualify based on low household income. Eligibility varies by state.
Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or visiting www.assurancewireless.com.
Assurance Wireless is currently also available in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina ,Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 49.9 million customers at the end of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation's greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and http://www.twitter.com/sprint.
About Assurance Wireless
Assurance Wireless, one of Sprint's prepaid brands, is supported by the Lifeline Assistance program, part of the Low Income Program of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), and designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at reasonable and affordable rates. Assurance Wireless uses the Nationwide Sprint Network, which reaches more than 275 million people.
To learn more about Assurance Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call (toll-free) 800-395-2171 or visit www.assurancewireless.com. Information is available in English and Spanish.