Several programs offer Minnesota residents with low income — including those recently impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — monthly discounts on landline telephone, wireless or internet services and access to specialized equipment, according to a press release. The federal Lifeline program and Minnesota’s state telephone assistance plan are two telecommunication discounts available to income eligible residents. The telephone equipment distribution program offers specialized equipment at no cost to qualifying persons.
“Minnesotans need reliable and affordable phone and internet service to be safe, to learn and to work from home. These discounts for phone and internet can help ensure families stay connected throughout this pandemic,” said Joseph Sullivan, a commissioner with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
“At this time more than ever, every dollar matters and we want to make sure Minnesota families know there is financial assistance available for phone and internet,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Commerce have regulatory responsibility for the telephone assistance plan, which piggybacks on the federal Lifeline program.
Eligible Lifeline subscribers may receive a monthly discount of up to $9.25 for landline telephone, wireless or internet service. An additional benefit of $25, or up to $34.25, is available for residents living on tribal lands. In addition, a program called Link Up, also available to residents living on tribal lands, provides a discount of up to $100 for first-time connection charges.
Minnesota offers a telephone assistance plan that provides eligible low income residents who have landline telephone service a $7 monthly credit on their phone bill. With the $9.25 Lifeline credit, many customers could receive a credit of $16.25 per month.
Eligibility includes having service in your name, proof that you or a member of your household meet the income guidelines or participate in one or more qualifying assistance programs.
Contact the Minnesota PUC’s Consumer Affairs Office at 651-296-0406, 800-657-3782 and [email protected] for help in accessing both Lifeline and TAP or learn more at mn.gov/puc/telecommunications/telephone-discounts/.
For information about broadband service options in your area, contact the office of broadband development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development at 651-259-7610 or [email protected] or learn more at mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/.
In addition to the above programs, the telephone equipment distribution program provides telephone equipment to eligible customers who are deaf, blind, hard of hearing, have a speech disability or physical disability and need adaptive equipment to use the phone. TED program equipment is loaned out at no cost for as long as it is needed. Available equipment includes captioned telephones, light flashing ring signalers, TTYs, amplified telephones, loud ringers, hands free speakerphones and more. For more information about the TED program or to apply, call 800-657-3663, 651-964-1514 or visit the TED program home page at mn.gov/deaf-hard-of-hearing/communication-access/ted/.
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