SOURCE: Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA

December 09, 2009 09:34 ET

New Assurance Wireless Available to Over 1.5 Million Lower-Income Households in New York State

HeartShare Joins Virgin Mobile USA in Launching Free Wireless Service for Those Who Need It Most

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 9, 2009) - Virgin Mobile USA today announced its launch of Assurance Wireless, a new cell phone service that makes wireless calling available at no cost to more than a million eligible lower-income households throughout New York. The wireless company is partnering with non-profit organization HeartShare Human Services in New York City to introduce this new service that provides more free minutes per month than other similar prepaid programs.

According to the New York Times, more than 36 million people nationwide currently use food stamps, with a wide "range of people struggling with basic needs."(1) With more Americans needing assistance in this difficult economy, Assurance Wireless is providing additional relief to those who need it most. Qualifying Assurance Wireless customers(2) in New York State can now receive a free Kyocera Jax handset and 200 minutes of free wireless local and long-distance calling within the United States every month.

"Most of us take cell phone service for granted. Mobile phones allow us to stay connected with friends, family and employers and provide critical support in case of emergency," said Dan Schulman, president of Sprint's Prepaid group which includes Virgin Mobile USA. "The government estimates that more than 1 million households in New York State are eligible for income-based assistance programs. We are proud to offer this valuable service, particularly in these tough times, which disproportionately affect lower income customers."

"This is a special situation in which the public and private sectors are working together to meet the needs of the community. We are excited to work with Virgin Mobile and local organizations to provide these much-needed cell phones to lower-income individuals who may use the phone to obtain employment, schedule medical appointments or be in contact with their childrens' schools," said William R. Guarinello, president and chief executive officer, HeartShare Human Services of New York. HeartShare is helping to get the word out about Assurance Wireless through outreach to individuals and families likely to be eligible as well as other community service groups.

"Individuals given the opportunity to have wireless connections at no cost are offered accessibility and convenience; I applaud Virgin Mobile and HeartShare for their commitment to improve local communities," said New York State Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera, 76th District. An outreach training program was hosted today at the Assemblyman's office in the Bronx.

Assurance Wireless also provides customers with free voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the free 200 minutes, customers can choose to pay for additional 20-cent per minute domestic calling, international calling, 15-cent text, email or instant messages, mobile Web access, and more.(3)

About Assurance Wireless

To learn more about Assurance Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-888-898-4888, or visit www.assurancewireless.com. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Customers eligible for Assurance Wireless include those eligible for or receiving Medicaid, Food Stamps/SNAP, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8, Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) or the National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program. Customers may also qualify based on household income.

Assurance Wireless is supported by the Lifeline Assistance program, part of the Low Income Program of the federal Universal Service Fund, (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), and designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at reasonable and affordable rates.

About HeartShare

Celebrating its 95th year, HeartShare Human Services of New York is a nonprofit organization that assists more than 20,000 New Yorkers. Its wide array of services assist individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities through numerous programs including education services, adult day programs, residential services, case management, recreation programs, family support services, and health services. It also provides counseling, after-school programs and assistance with foster care and adoption to children and families, supports people affected by HIV/AIDS, and administers energy assistance programs. For more information, visit www.heartshare.org.

About Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA, part of the new Prepaid group of Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S), offers millions of customers control, flexibility and connectivity through Virgin Mobile's Plans Without Annual Contracts for cell phone service and no-contract Broadband2Go high-speed Web access. Virgin Mobile USA also offers Pink Slip Protection,(4) which provides eligible monthly customers who lose their jobs free service for up to three months. Virgin Mobile Top-Up cards are available at almost 150,000 locations nationwide and can be used for Assurance Wireless and Broadband2Go. For more information, visit www.virginmobileusa.com.

Assurance Wireless, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA are part of the Sprint Prepaid group.

(1) DeParle, Jason and Gebeloff, Robert. Food Stamp Use Soars and Stigma Fades, New York Times: November 28, 2009

(2) Eligibility varies by state. Please call 1-888-321-5880 to determine income requirements.


(3) When purchasing additional minutes or features, standard taxes and surcharges will apply.

(4) Subject to certain terms and conditions