RICHMOND — Access to local emergency services and community
resources is vital to all Virginians. Being able to make a local phone call can
keep vulnerable Virginians from becoming totally isolated and can mean the difference
between life and death in an emergency.
Discounted telephone service programs are available through local telephone companies
to low-income Virginians to enable them to stay connected to community resources.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages eligible Virginia residents who
need local phone service but cannot afford it to take advantage of the Virginia
Universal Service Plan program. The plan makes basic wireline phone service more
affordable to those who need it.
The SCC is partnering with the Federal Communications Commission, the National Association
of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the National Association of State Utility
Consumer Advocates during “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week”
September 12-18. The goal of this nationwide outreach effort is to increase awareness
about telephone service assistance available through state and federal programs
and to expand the number of qualified participants.
The Virginia Universal Service Plan, in existence since 1988, has two components
known as Lifeline and Link-Up. Implemented jointly by the SCC and the Federal Communications
Commission, this plan helps eligible consumers purchase more affordable telephone
service. Under the Lifeline plan, telephone customers who participate in or are
eligible for certain medical or food public assistance programs are entitled to
receive basic telephone service discounts, which, in some cases, are valued at more
than $14 per month. The other program, known as Link-Up, provides a 50 percent reduction
in the telephone service installation charge, up to a maximum of $30. This program
is available to qualifying households that do not currently have telephone service.
Most wireline telephone companies in Virginia provide this assistance and will help
with enrollment. A number of wireless companies also provide discounted service
to qualifying low income consumers in Virginia. If you have more than one local
telephone provider in your area, contact each company to verify which ones offer
Lifeline and Link-Up support, because not all companies are required to offer these
The SCC’s Division of Communications has regulatory authority over wireline telephone
companies operating in Virginia. Additional universal service plan information is
available on the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov/puc/univ.aspx.