State board delays plan to give away cell phones

Published 8:33 am Saturday, January 24, 2009

MONTGOMERY — A state board has delayed a plan that could allow as many as 560,000 low income families in Alabama to receive cell phones.

The state Wireless 9-1-1 Board said the Miami-based prepaid cell phone company planning to provide the service must obtain certification from the 911 emergency service boards in all of Alabama’s 67 counties.

Officials with TracFone Wireless Inc. say it could take eight months to a year to get approval from the county boards.

The plan being considered is an extension of a federal program that subsidizes wired telephone service for the poor.

the plan would provide low income families with a free phone, unlimited 911 service and 68 minutes of free talk time a month. The families could buy additional time at the rate of 20 cents a minute after the 68 minutes are consumed.