TDS® Reminds Consumers of Lifeline Discount for Local Phone Service for Low-Income Consumers

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Federal program offers affordable phone service, more awareness needed.

TDS Telecommunications Corp.

People without telephones can easily become isolated from basic communications, especially in rural communities.

For people who many know someone who can't afford basic phone service or is thinking about cutting the cord to save money, help is available. Lifeline and Link-Up programs have been available for many years from local phone companies like TDS Telecommunications Corp. (TDS®). Now, due to the economic downturn, many families are newly eligible.

According to United States census numbers, more than 38 million people live at or below poverty level. While more than 90 percent of American households have telephone service, there are millions who simply cannot afford a telephone in their home. Lifeline and Link-Up (reduced-cost phone service programs) are available and can help keep a landline in the home.

Consumers may be eligible for these reduced rate telephone services if they receive qualified benefits from their state. Phone service is an essential component of public safety. TDS is committed to helping low-income families get (and keep) telephones in their homes at affordable rates using funds from the Universal Service Fund program.

"Lifeline and Link-Up are designed to ensure that everyone in the country has access to basic telephone service," said Kevin Hess, senior vice president of Government and Regulatory Affairs for TDS. "Phone service is not only a convenience, but a necessity. It's a link to emergency services, the way we look for jobs, and the way we stay in touch with family and friends."

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Lifeline program provides discounts on monthly service for qualified telephone subscribers. The Link-Up program offers reduced charges for telephone installation and provides additional discounts off the monthly service.

"The importance of having a telephone cannot be overlooked," said Hess. "People without telephones can easily become isolated from basic communications, especially in rural communities."

The National Exchange Carriers Association reports that the ratio of households using the Lifeline subsidy to the number of households at or below the poverty level is about 1 to 7. With efforts by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and with the support of telecommunication companies like TDS, the gap will hopefully close.

Consumers can get more information on these programs by contacting the FCC; write to 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554; call 1-888-CALL-FCC; or visit http://www.fcc.gov/cgb. There are different requirements in nearly every state to qualify for the Lifeline and Link-Up programs. For more information, details on state-specific qualifications, and local rates, call TDS at 1-888-CALL-TDS.

TDS Telecommunications Corp. markets communication services to business and residential customers in 30 states through its brands TDS Telecom® and TDS Metrocom®. With 1.1 million access line equivalents in service, TDS Telecommunications Corp. connects customers to phone, broadband, and digital television service in hundreds of rural, suburban, and metropolitan communities. TDS Telecommunications Corp. is the eighth-largest wire line company in the nation; employing approximately 2,730 people. The company is headquartered in Madison, Wis. Visit http://www.tdstelecom.com and http://www.tdsbusiness.com for more information.

TDS Telecommunications Corp. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. Telephone and Data Systems™ is a Fortune 500® company that provides wireless, local and long-distance telephone, and broadband services to 7.3 million customers in 36 states, through TDS Telecommunications Corp. and U.S. Cellular®, its 81-percent owned wireless subsidiary. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Chicago, Telephone and Data Systems employed 12,440 people as of June 30, 2009. For more information, visit http://www.teldta.com.

For more information contact:
DeAnne Boegli, National PR Manager
TDS Telecommunications Corp.
608-664-4428

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