How to Get a Free iPhone Under the EBB Program

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Does the EBB Program Offer Free iPhones?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FCC established a temporary government assistance program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit (or EBB). This program was designed to help households that are struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic. The program provided a discount of up to $50 ($75 on qualifying Tribal lands) per month towards broadband service for eligible households. Eligible households were also able to receive a one-time device discount of up to $100 to buy a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet from an EBB participating provider, however, they had to contribute more than $10 and less than $50 for the purchase. 

As of December 31, 2021, the EBB program has ended. However, it was replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). In addition to the new ACP program, there is also FCC’s permanent Lifeline program, which offers similar benefits as the expired EBB program, including free monthly service and free Android or Apple smartphones. Plus, some Lifeline providers haven’t updated their offers yet and some may still offer a free iPhone EBB program, even though the phone can actually be obtained through their Lifeline or ACP program. Therefore, there are still plenty of ways to get a free government Android phone or iPhone. 

Note: Most Lifeline and ACP (former EBB) providers offer entry-level to mid-range Android smartphones, nevertheless, there are a few providers that offer free iPhones and a free iPhone EBB program (now ACP or Lifeline). 

How to Get a Free iPhone Under the EBB Program

Even though some telecommunication providers haven’t updated their websites yet and state that they still offer a free iPhone EBB program, unfortunately, it is no longer possible to get a free iPhone through the EBB program, as the program has expired. 

Nevertheless, the providers that used to offer free iPhones through the EBB program, now offer free iPhones through the ACP and/or Lifeline program. 

To get a free iPhone under any government program (such as ACP/EBB or Lifeline), you must follow the simple steps below:

Step 1: Make sure you are EBB/ACP or Lifeline eligible (depending on the program through which the provider offers free iPhones). 

EBB Eligibility Criteria

A person or household is EBB-eligible if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your household income is below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • You or any of your household members participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs.
  • You or any of your household members have received a federal Pell Grant award in the current award year.
  • You or any of your household members were approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year.
  • You or any of your household members have experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers in 2020.

ACP Eligibility Criteria

A person or household is ACP-eligible if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your household income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • You or any of your household members participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs. 
  • You or any of your household members have received a federal Pell Grant award in the current award year.
  • You or any of your household members were approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year.
  • You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program. 

Lifeline Eligibility Criteria

A person or household is Lifeline-eligible if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your household income is below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • You or any of your household members participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs. 

Step 2: Find an EBB/ACP/Lifeline provider that offers services and free iPhones for eligible customers in your state of residence. 

Step 3: Apply to the provider’s EBB/ACP/Lifeline program by contacting them or by filling out their online application. You can also submit an ACP application directly at acpbenefit.org. For Lifeline, you can apply through the National Verifier application system at checklifeline.org/lifeline. 

Providers That Offer a Free iPhone Under EBB Program

The free iPhone EBB program is now known as the ACP or Lifeline program (even though many providers haven’t changed the name yet and thus still offer a so-called ‘free iPhone EBB program’). Most ACP or Lifeline providers offer free government Android phones, however, there are some that also offer free basic iPhone models for eligible customers. 

In this section, you will find out which providers offer free government iPhones and their application process. 

Cintex Wireless

Cintex Wireless is a popular wireless service and Lifeline and ACP provider. The provider offers services in five US states (Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, and West Virginia). Qualifying clients can get free monthly phone service with free minutes, texts, and data, as well as a free 4G or 5G LTE smartphone. Through Cintex’s former EBB (now ACP) program you can either receive a free Android smartphone or a free iPhone, depending on availability.

Application process

  • In order to apply for Cintex’s ACP free services and phone, you must be ACP-eligible. You must either participate in a government assistance program (such as SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, WIC, Lifeline, etc.), participate in a Tribal specific program (such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations), have a household income below 200% of the Federal poverty line, be approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, or meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program. You must also be a resident of any of the 5 states, where they offer services (Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, and West Virginia).
  • Visit apply.cintexwireless.com, enter your ZIP code and email in the provided boxes to sign up. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the form. You will be required to provide all the necessary personal information and perhaps documentation, which proves your identity and eligibility.
  • Once you apply, wait for a confirmation letter. In case your application was successful, you may soon receive a free government iPhone or another smartphone.

NewPhone Wireless

NewPhone Wireless is a phone and wireless service provider and a Lifeline and ACP (former EBB) provider. Through its Lifeline and ACP programs, the provider offers free monthly wireless services and free smartphones to qualifying clients. NewPhone Wireless offers free government iPhones through their ACP (former EBB) program throughout the United States. 

Application Process

  • In order to apply for a NewPhone Wireless free government iPhone, you must be ACP-eligible. You must either participate in a government assistance program (such as SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, WIC, Lifeline, etc.), participate in a Tribal specific program (such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations), have a household income below 200% of the Federal poverty line, be approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, or meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program. You must also be a resident of a participating state. 
  • Visit apply.newphone.com and apply online. You will be required to provide all the necessary personal information and perhaps documentation, which proves your identity and eligibility. Then, press ‘Sign up’ to finish the process and the government’s secure system will verify your application.
  • Wait for 20 minutes to 4 days for your application to be reviewed. If approved, you will receive a free monthly service and a free phone. You can expect to receive a free phone within 7 to 10 business days. The shipping is free of charge.

SFone Wireless

SFone is a wireless service provider and a proud former EBB provider. As the provider hasn’t updated its website since the end of the EBB program, it is currently unknown if they will also offer an ACP program. Assuming that they will, you will probably be able to get a free iPhone through their ACP program. Currently, SFone offers their services in just a few U.S. states (Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, and West Virginia), however, they are planning to expand their services to other U.S. states shortly. 

SFone’s former EBB program has partnered with Cintex Wireless to provide free services and a free Android or Apple smartphone to their eligible customers.

Application Process

  • In order to apply for SFone’s government assistance program, you must qualify. See the Lifeline, EBB, and ACP eligibility criteria above. 
  • To apply, visit sfonewireless.com. Apply online by providing all of the required information and documentation to verify your identity and prove your eligibility. Then, call SFone’s customer care at +1(855)655-3097 and talk to a representative to apply.
  • If the company finds you eligible for the program, you may either receive a free government iPhone or an Android smartphone.

What Type of Free iPhones Does EBB Program Offer?

It is virtually impossible to know exactly what kind of a smartphone you will receive when applying to the former EBB (now ACP) program, as it depends on your location and phone availability. Generally, Lifeline and EBB/ACP providers don’t offer the latest smartphones. Instead, they provide entry-level to mid-range phones with all the basic features. 

Even though it is hard to determine the exact phone model in advance, the EBB/ACP and Lifeline providers that also offer iPhones generally offer the following iPhone and Android smartphone models:

Cintex Wireless

At Cintex Wireless you can expect to receive an Apple iPhone 6 (CDMA or GSM), an Apple iPhone 6S GSM, or an Android smartphone, such as LG Stylo 4, LG M150, Motorola E5, or Samsung Galaxy S7.

NewPhone Wireless

At NewPhone Wireless you can expect to receive an Apple iPhone 6 an Apple iPhone 6S, or an Android smartphone from a reputable brand such as Samsung, Motorola, or LG.

SFone Wireless

At SFone Wireless you can expect to receive an Apple iPhone 6 (CDMA or GSM), an Apple iPhone 6S GSM, or an Android smartphone.

Alternative Ways to Get Free iPhones 

Even though most Lifeline and EBB/ACP providers offer free Android smartphones, there are also some that provide free iPhone EBB programs (now ACP). Nonetheless, you can only receive the free iPhone if you are government assistance program eligible and a resident of any of the states where free iPhone providers operate. 

If you are not eligible and/or a resident of the right state, you will be unable to receive a free iPhone from the government. 

Fortunately, there are still some other ways to receive a free iPhone, such as:

  • Getting a carrier deal
  • Participating in a survey offer
  • Becoming a reviewer
  • Becoming a free marketing agent
  • Becoming an Apple or another tech company employee
  • Getting a free iPhone via Amazon Vine
  • Participating in a giveaway contest

What Other Benefits Does the EBB Program Offer?

In addition to iPhones or Android smartphones former EBB (now ACP) providers also offer some other benefits through their government assistance programs. 

As the EBB program has recently ended, the EBB program benefits are no longer relevant. Therefore, here are the benefits of the new ACP or Affordable Connectivity Program:

  • Eligible customers and households can get a discount of up to $30 a month toward internet service and eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands can get a $75 monthly discount. 
  • Eligible customers and households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet from a participating provider by contributing more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

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