On Thursday, Virgin Mobile’s Assurance Wireless, which provides a free wireless phone and 250 free minutes of wireless voice service monthly to eligible low-income customers, is launching its service in Arkansas.
Noting that the US Census Bureau recently reported that the percentage of Americans living in poverty increased by 14.3 percent in 2009 — the highest rate of poverty in 15 years, the company is eager to expand the mobile phone experience to many who may otherwise be without a vital communication device.
“More than 106,000 Arkansas residents are currently without a job,” the wireless provider said. “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.”
Grace Boehm, director for Assurance Wireless, says his company’s efforts will have a lasting economic impact on customers. “With more than 18 percent of Arkansas residents living below the federal poverty line, it’s clear that the state’s economic crisis has had an impact on residents’ ability to find work and pay monthly bills,” Boehm says. “We are looking forward to helping people in Arkansas stay connected with potential employers and ultimately get back on their feet.”
According to information provided by Assurance, “if all 28.5 million adults eligible for Lifeline Assistance were to take advantage of the program and earn at the same rate and level as [the study] sample, it would result in $3.7 billion in fresh income for the poor and near poor.”