Amid all the bickering about what might be in the next COVID relief package, we shouldn’t lose sight of an important provision of the last bill, which President Trump signed right after Christmas. The legislation extends free mobile internet service to almost 2 million Arizonans – and one company isn’t waiting for the start date in the law to begin offering this free service immediately.
With so many people still struggling to make ends meet while also contending with remote schooling, remote working, and remote life in general, it’s especially important to be able to connect to the world. That’s why Congress earmarked more than $3 billion for emergency broadband benefits through the end of the fiscal year in September. That program will bring free unlimited mobile internet connection to Americans who are struggling the most while hopefully jumpstarting the economic recovery.
The new program doesn’t take effect for several weeks while the FCC works on implementation, but Q Link Wireless – a leading nationwide provider of the federal Lifeline program – is already offering that free service immediately and providing eligible new customers with a free tablet. The previous Lifeline program restricted the amount of data being offered to recipients, but the new law makes it unlimited. And there are no contracts or hidden fees.
The final Trump COVID relief bill broadens the net for Americans who qualify for free unlimited data on their mobile devices. Anyone who lost their job or saw their income drop since the earliest days of the pandemic (starting Feb. 29, 2020) is eligible. Others who qualify immediately include those participating in such government benefit programs as SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, and veterans pension and survivors benefits.
So how many Arizona residents may qualify? It’s hard to get exact numbers, but as of September the state had 1.9 million people enrolled in Medicaid. In mid-2019, it had 784,000 people getting SNAP benefits, more than half of them in Maricopa County. Nationally, estimates say almost one-third of all Americans could be eligible.
This is a big deal to some of Arizona’s poorest residents, who have often felt left out of real benefits that can improve their lives. The CEO of Q Link Wireless, a Miami businessman named Issa Asad, understands that access to the internet is more crucial right now than ever before. “This means access to health care, learning, and jobs for millions of vulnerable Americans,” he noted.
You can find out if you qualify and sign up for service at https://qlinkwireless.com/signup.