There are so many cell phones on the market today, each offering various minute plans and assorted fees, that many people often forget about how practical and useful a home phone can be (not only for emergencies but for daily use as well). Regular landline phone service can be rather costly but there is a solution for those who receive government assistance.

The government initiated a nationwide program that helps low income individuals and families by lowering the cost of cell phone or landline service. This program is known as Lifeline and affects the monthly charges incurred by basic service. The co-program Link-Up assists with the setup costs associated with phone service. The application process and requirements for these programs varies by state and phone company, but it usually requires documentation of participation in low-income assistance programs.

If you live in Oklahoma, you probably qualify if you or someone in your household are receiving assistance from any of the following programs:

Medicaid (including SoonerCare)

Food Stamps

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program

Vocational Rehabilitation (including aid to the hearing impaired)

Oklahoma Sales Tax Relief

Tribal Assistance Programs:

Head Start (income qualifying or residents of Tribal Lands only)

Tribally administered TANF

Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance

If you have credit problems, depending upon the phone company, it is possible to make arrangements to pay the set up costs. The lifeline program connects with thousands of phone companies, each of which offers their own monthly charges and setup fees. There are also prepaid landline service options available through several companies. You can find detailed information about participating phone companies in your state through the Lifeline Support website.

You are held responsible for any long distance charges; however, it is possible to block long distance calls from being made through your land line for free. Long distance calls can still be made if a prepaid calling card is used.

For Oklahoma residents interested in the Lifeline program, I highly recommend the phone company TerraCom ( Their lifeline service charge is strictly $1.95 a month plus setup fees which can be deferred over two to four months. After ordering phone service, it is usually connected within five business days. If for some reason service is not connected, their customer service agents are very friendly and help in any way they can to resolve the problem. If the situation requires, they will send a technician to fix the problems with the wiring inside or outside your home usually the next business day.

You can sign up for Inside Wiring Plus, insurance that costs only $1.00 a month (price may vary) . The insurance covers any charges incurred from sending a technician to repair the inside wiring required for their phone service.

They also offer unlimited dial-up internet for $14.95 a month. Their speed and price is comparable with other internet service providers and they are more reliable than People PC, MSN, and NetZero. They have local access numbers for most areas and a free web accelerator. I have not experienced any problems with their internet service and set up was easy as their technical support walked me through each step. Their technical agent had me online in less than five minutes. They do not offer a browser, but that is preferable since browsers provided with MSN are harder to update and control than the more popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Overall, I am very pleased with TerraCom and I recommend them to anyone interested in the Lifeline program or basic landline phone service.

A Special Note About Having Service Connected…

If a previous resident failed to pay for their phone service through this provider, the landlord must sign a document stating that the resident is no longer living at the residence. Until they receive this document by fax, mail, or in person, they will not connect service.