One Million Ohioans Use Free Phone Program Costing State $100 Million Each Year

Get your “free” phones–

(Speak with Authority)

One million Ohioans are using a free phone program costing the state nearly $100 million a year.
Dayton Today reported:

A program that provides subsidized phone service to low-income individuals has nearly doubled in size in Ohio in the past year — now covering more than a million people. At the same time, federal officials say they’re reining in waste, fraud and abuse in the program.

The Federal Communications Commission announced recently that reforms have saved $43 million since January and are expected to save $200 million by year’s end. In Ohio, savings are expected to be $2.9 million a year.

The savings were realized in part because the government gave out fewer cellphones to ineligible people and took steps to avoid issuing duplicate phones.

But the size of the program in the state — and profits to the increasing number of cellphone companies involved — has exploded in recent months, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of program data.

The program in Ohio cost $26.9 million in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent data available, versus $15.6 million in the same timeframe in 2011. Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of people in the program nearly doubled to more than a million.

Growth could cost everyone who owns a phone. The program is funded through the “Universal Service Fund” charge on phone bills — usually a dollar or two per bill — and the amount of the fee is determined by the cost of this and other programs…A growth of $100 million in this program could result in an increased fee of a few cents on the average bill, according to officials from the agency that administers the program. The total cost of the program nationwide was $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.

Growth in the program is fed by the 2008 decision to extend it to prepaid cellphone companies, which get up to $10 every month that someone is subscribed. The number of cellphone companies offering the service in Ohio grew from four in 2011 to nine currently, with seven more awaiting approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Advocates for the poor say this growth is to be expected; eligibility is dependent on having a low income or being in a program such as food stamps or heating assistance, and that population is ballooning, they say.

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  • Campfollower

    We’re carrying a phone bill for a family of five users that tops $300 each month. I cannot even believe I am also subsidizing the nutty “Obamaphone” people. We do not have a large screen television, but I’ll bet they have at least one if not more.

    I also just saw my first NFL football game last week. At 51, I’ve never been able to attend one because of the prohibitive cost, but my daughter is a cheerleader this year (still had to pay). I looked around at the fans, some obviously low income people who had three little children there in the expensive seats, and realized that I’m probably paying their grocery bills so they could be regulars with $50 jerseys and everything. This really sucks.

  • MrGoodWench

    The savings were realized in part because the government gave out fewer cellphones to ineligible people and took steps to avoid issuing duplicate phones.
    Read this a few hundred times .

  • Sayitagain

    Great that this issue originates in Ohio. The video of the Cleveland Obama supporter, shamelessly boasting about her free “Obama” phone, should hit home to any working, self-respecting Ohio resident. If Romeny wins Ohio, this story will be he reason why.

  • snap boy

    Eligibility is determined by low income OR food stamps or heating assistance… and this costs not just Ohio and its taxpayers but every person with a phone who PAYS THE BILL. I’m fed up with paying to house, clothe, feed, medicate, educate, communicate, warm/cool, transport people who refuse to get off their duffs and pay their own way. These people have kids sporting Michael Jordan shoes, big screen TV’s, and tooth jewelry; they can buy their own phones or do without – which is what the rest of us do when we can’t afford something.



  • Jennifer

    That is a bit under 1 in 10 of the residents of Ohio…makes me sick

  • serfer52

    And the predominate race recipents are…?

  • Finncrisp

    Can you hear me now? This is crap. What ammendment guarantees one a cell phone? I think this started out as phones for the homeless. Good grief, I thought we we were broke.

  • dwd

    That photo says it all

  • jb books

    Vote buying Obama style. Gee, I wonder what the ownership demographic looks like? I can only pray that these people are the least likely to get out of their houses to actually vote.

  • mark

    This is not a race issue- lets not go there. We’re not like those vulgarians and bigots on the left. Its about the promotion of a dependency culture. It is hitting every racial and ethnic group in this country. Unfortunately, some groups have been effected more, and as a result have suffered immensely by this self perpetuating cycle of dependency and permanent poverty.

  • Patricia

    What a coincidence that there are so many free phones given out in a swing state!

  • Gaston

    Yep, FREE stuff costs money. A lotta money actually.

  • pink tie Republican

    Will you raycists shut up? Low income brothas and sistahs need their cellphones. Next up we will be givin’ dem a new car, groceries and a home (oh wait, we already doin’ dat).

  • Robert

    $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.

    That’s a 36% rise in government spending.
    Completely ridiculous and out of control.

    The entire budget of the FCC should be cut in half.

  • TeachX3

    mark #11 … exactly. I know many NON blacks who have the entitlement mentality. The sickness is spreading and it does not contain itself within any certain race.

    This is not acceptable. Our great Nation is on a vary rapid path to destruction. *IF* any of this is slowed down or stopped, there is going to be an ugly response. If it continues on… we are done. Nobody will have anything. Either way, prepare for some very rough roads.

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  • http://none tommy mc donnel

    we are going to have more people that vote for a living than work for a living.

    “the power to tax is the power to tyrannize.”

  • dwdude

    “The savings were realized in part because the government gave out fewer cellphones to ineligible people and took steps to avoid issuing duplicate phones. the “savings” equal 2.9 million on a 100 million dollar program”…so regular phone users are on the hook for 97.1 million a year! this is how savings works in government. they overspend astronomically, then cut back a tiny bit to convince the economic morons and the devoted comrades that they are being good stewards with our money…we real patriots need to take our government away from these economic saboteurs!

  • Bigkahuna

    Freaking parasites….cancel it all its a waste of $100 million