California Lifeline FAQ

 

What is Access Wireless? 

Access Wireless offers a California LifeLine supported service designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are universally available to income-qualifying customers at reasonable and affordable rates. Access Wireless’s California LifeLine service provides income-eligible customers with a free monthly allotment of airtime for one year. The mobile phone service includes in-demand features such as voicemail, domestic long distance, text messaging, Call Waiting, Caller ID and 911 emergency access.

How much does Access Wireless cost?

Customers that qualify for California LifeLine supported service may choose from the following rate plan options:  

  1. California LifeLine Unlimited Talk, Text & 2GB plan (free of charge)

Based on our current Policies, Access Wireless imposes a $39 activation fee.  The California LifeLine program will reimburse this fee on your behalf only if you are either (1) establishing California LifeLine Service for the first time, or (2) switching from another California LifeLine service provider, whether wireline or wireless, to Access Wireless.  The California LifeLine program will not reimburse the activation fee more than twice annually.  When you apply for Access Wireless service, the Company will apply a company-funded credit to your account so that you will not have to pay any portion of the activation fee for which California LifeLine Program reimbursement is not available.

There are no other monthly bills, long-term contracts, recurring fees, or surcharges for Access Wireless customers.

What if I need more minutes or data than what is included?

You can add airtime or data to your Access Wireless account using a debit or credit card or by purchasing an Access Wireless or i-wireless airtime card, which are available at participating Kroger-owned stores. PINs may also be purchased at more than 10,000 convenient nationwide retailers. Click here to find an Access Wireless airtime retailer near you. 

From Your Phone:

  • Go to Menu > Web > My Account -or-
  • Dial #BUY directly from your Access Wireless phone

From the Web

  • Visit www.accesswireless.com and log in to My Account
  • Click here  to log in to My Account   

Redeeming an Airtime Card

  • Follow the instructions on the back of the airtime card. Make sure you scratch the gray area to reveal the 10-digit PIN

I lost the official California LifeLine Application Form from the California LifeLine Administrator. What do I do?

If you have opted to apply by mail or fax, you will have received a California LifeLine application from the California LifeLine Administrator. You will need to contact them about your lost form.

Completed forms and documentation can be mailed to the California LifeLine Administrator at this address:

California LifeLine Administrator
PO Box 8417
Westminster, CA 92684-8417

What do I need to do to renew my LifeLine benefit with Access Wireless in California?

In order to continue receiving California LifeLine service from Access Wireless, you will need to complete an annual renewal process, certifying your continued eligibility for California LifeLine service through your participation in a public assistance program or your income qualifications. The California LifeLine Administrator will send your Renewal Form in a PINK envelope to the address on your Access Wireless account when it’s time to complete the annual renewal process. This PINK envelope will have a four digit PIN number you need to renew your benefit. There are currently four ways in which to renew your California LifeLine benefit:

  1. Call the California LifeLine Administrator at 1-877-858-7463 to renew over the phone.
  2. Renew online via your smartphone at https://private.californialifeline.com/WES/
  3. Renew online via a desktop computer at www.californialifeline.com.
  4. Return the PINK envelope with the completed application sent to you by the California LifeLine Administrator

Your California renewal will also serve as your certification of ongoing eligibility for your federal LifeLine benefit.

Does Access Wireless offer California LifeLine supported service to all eligible customers?

Access Wireless offers California LifeLine supported service to any customer residing within our approved service area. Only eligible customers may enroll in and be approved to receive a California LifeLine supported service with Access Wireless. 

How can I apply for Access Wireless service in California?

Applying for California LifeLine supported service from Access Wireless service is easy and convenient.

  • Visit a tent event near you!
  • Apply in-store at participating Kroger-owned stores, tent events, or designated retail locations.  

If I apply for California LifeLine service with Access Wireless, do the program rules allow me to then apply with another company for California LifeLine service?

No.  A 30-day enrollment request freeze is applicable once you begin the application process.  The 30-day duration for the enrollment request freeze begins when the Program Administrator generates an application packet using your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number or Tribal Identification.  The 30-day enrollment freeze ends if (i) the Program Administrator sends you a final eligibility decision; (ii) the consumer or California LifeLine service provider cancels the request; or (iii) after thirty days.

What's included with my Access Wireless California LifeLine supported service?

All customers approved for California LifeLine supported service may choose from the following rate plan options supported by the California LifeLine benefit:  

  1. California LifeLine Unlimited Talk, Text & 2GB plan (free of charge)

What phones does Access Wireless offer to California LifeLine customers?

Eligible customers will receive a data-enabled handset in accordance with Access Wireless’ Handset Policy . All other customers will be given the option to purchase a phone from Access Wireless.  Make and model of phones will vary based on inventory availability and available promotions.  

As a California LifeLine customer, can I pay my phone bill in person without being assessed a fee?

Access Wireless is a California LifeLine supported service provider that does not bill its customers.  

Where will my Access Wireless service work?

Access Wireless California LifeLine supported service is provided on the Nationwide Sprint network. However, Access Wireless service may not be available in all areas. To determine if there is sufficient GSM LTE coverage in your area, click here to view a coverage map.                   

When can I start using my plan?

When you apply for Access Wireless’ California LifeLine Service, you will be given your allotment of minutes, text, and data provided by your rate plan.  When i-wireless receives notification from the California LifeLine Administrator regarding approval of your California LifeLine application, the company will notify you.   If you are denied the California LifeLine benefit, Access Wireless will change your rate plan to a prepaid service plan, and you will have the option of discontinuing use of the phone or purchasing additional i-wireless airtime and selecting an available i-wireless prepaid retail plan.

How long can I use my Access Wireless service?

The California LifeLine Administrator requires all existing California LifeLine customers to renew their participation on an annual basis.  Each year, before your LifeLine anniversary date, you will receive a California LifeLine renewal form with a PIN number in a PINK envelope. 

To renew your participation online, simply go to www.californialifeline.com.  If you do not renew your participation in the California LifeLine program, you will be dropped from the program and lose your California LifeLine discounts.  

What is the Pinsight Widget?

The Pinsight Widget is an application aggregator that appears on select Access Wireless and i-wireless handsets. The widget allows for quick downloads of recommended and popular applications from the Google Play Store. The suggested and recommended apps are based off of a pre-determined list, and not off of customer download history or personal preferences.

Are there any restrictions for applying for a California LifeLine supported service?

When applying for California LifeLine supported service, applicants confirm their eligibility by demonstrating their participation in a qualifying public assistance program or annual household income guidelines.  Additionally, the applicant must acknowledge the one-per-household requirement and affirm that they are not receiving a California LifeLine discount on either a wireline or wireless phone.

You must routinely use your California LifeLine supported phone to continue to receive their monthly LifeLine benefit. Accounts with a lack of usage may be de-enrolled from the California LifeLine program.

You are responsible for notifying Access Wireless if your circumstances change and you no longer qualify for California LifeLine service.  The California LifeLine benefit will be discontinued, but the Access Wireless phone will continue to work as long as airtime is added to the account.

When will I receive my minutes, texts, and data each month?

Once your phone is activated, you will receive your free allotment of minutes, texts and data provided by your rate plan. Once you are approved for the California LifeLine benefit, you will continue to receive your free allotment of minutes, texts and data on the same date every month for one year.

For example, if you activate your service on May 5th, your monthly allotment of minutes, texts will be added to your account on the 5th of each month.

What should I do if I don't receive my monthly allotment of California LifeLine supported minutes, texts, or data?

Please call 1-866-594-3644 and a Customer Care representative will be happy to assist you.

How do I activate Access Wireless service on my handset?

Each handset is different.  If you obtained your handset from Access Wireless, please refer to the activation instructions inside of the packaging of your phone.  If you need further assistance, please call Access Wireless Customer Care at 1-866-594-3644.

If you wish to provide your own phone, contact 1-866-594-3644 and a Customer Care representative will be happy to advise you on whether your device is compatible with Access Wireless, and on activating your compatible device for use with Access Wireless service.

What if my Access Wireless phone is lost or stolen?

If the phone associated with your Access Wireless service is lost or stolen, you are responsible for any charges incurred until you notify Customer Care of the loss by calling 1-866-594-3644. Once we have been notified, your account will be suspended from further use. You will have 30 days to activate a new phone or notify us that you have found your old phone. If you do not notify us within 30 days of either action, your account will be deactivated and any remaining account balance will be lost and the phone number may be reassigned.

New Access Wireless phones can be purchased online or at select Kroger-owned stores. Subject to availability, consumers may also choose to purchase a refurbished replacement phone from Access Wireless.

What should I do if my Access Wireless phone breaks within the first year?

If you are provided with an Access Wireless phone and experience an equipment malfunction, please call us at 1-866-594-3644 and we will discuss your options for a replacement phone.  All Access Wireless phones include a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Do I need to pay taxes or fees on my California LifeLine supported service with Access Wireless?

No, California LifeLine customers are exempt from taxes, surcharges, CPUC user fees, federal excise tax, local franchise taxes and State 911 tax associated with telephone service.  

Are calls to 911 and Access Wireless Customer Care free and unlimited if I am a California LifeLine customer?

Calls to 911 are always free and do not count against any monthly allotments of minutes, text messages, or data. Calls to Access Wireless Customer Care are free when you dial 611 from the phone associated with your Access Wireless service plan and do not count against any monthly allotment of minutes, text messages, or data.

Are there standards for 911 emergency services location accuracy and reliability?

Your phone will be able to place calls to 911 even if you have run out of your monthly allotment of airtime. 

It is advised by Public Safety Officials, that you should be prepared to provide information about your location when making an emergency call. Wireless service, unlike landline phone service, uses less reliable methods to place calls and to determine your phone number and location. Network coverage can be adversely affected by weather, structures, buildings, and geography and because of these factors, emergency operators may not be able to determine your location or your phone number. These factors also may hinder your ability to make an emergency call.

Occasionally, you may attempt to call 911 in areas where there is no wireless coverage. If there is no wireless coverage, your call to 911 may not go through and you should dial 911 from the nearest landline phone. 

Enhanced 911 service, also known as E911, relies on GPS technology to obtain location information. This service is dependent on a number of factors such as the abilities of local emergency authorities, the GPS ability of your phone, whether your GPS enabled phone has GPS turned on, and your phone’s ability to obtain a GPS Satellite signal. The signal could be impaired by being indoors, in inclement weather, etc. Even when available, E911 does not necessarily provide accurate location information.

Is there a fee for accessing 800 or 800-like toll free services?

There is no fee to access an 800 number, but these calls do count against your monthly allotment of airtime.

Is there a list of phone numbers that are free calls with my Access Wireless service?

California LifeLine customers will enjoy free calls to the following numbers: 211, 311, 511, 711, and 811.

These calls will not count against your monthly allotment of airtime. Calls using a relay service associated with any of the free numbers listed above may count against your monthly allotment of airtime.

Does Access Wireless provide free access to the California Relay Service via 711?

Yes, Access Wireless California LifeLine customers have free access to California Relay Service via 711. Associated calls using the 711 relay service may count against your monthly allotment of airtime.

Does Access Wireless provide access to two California LifeLine discounted telephone lines for Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants?

Yes, Access Wireless will provide access to two California LifeLine telephone lines for participants in the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program.

What happens if I decide to terminate my California LifeLine supported service shortly after being approved?

You can terminate your California LifeLine supported service with Access Wireless within 14 days of service activation or at any other time for any reason without incurring a fee. If you terminate your service within three days of activation, excluding national holidays, you will not be charged a restocking fee for any devices and applicable service connection charges and deposits that you paid, if any, would be refunded.   Access Wireless California LifeLine supported service does not require payment of a service connection charge or deposit by a customer who is found eligible for California LifeLine supported service by the California LifeLine Administrator.

Do any restrictions apply to the California LifeLine supported service offered by Access Wireless in California?

Yes, the same restrictions that apply to all Access Wireless customers apply to California LifeLine Access Wireless customers. These restrictions include:

  • Access Wireless is only available to individuals who participate in a qualifying government program or are income-eligible
  • Only one wireless or landline benefit is allowed per household
  • The address you provide for your phone service must be your place of residence
  • Your Access Wireless account must be in the name of the qualified customer and service is non-transferable, even to another low-income customer
  • You must provide your date of birth, Social Security number as required by state, proof of identification, and proof of program participation on your application in order to be approved for service
  • Access Wireless participation is subject to the Access Wireless Terms and Conditions of Service
  • Access Wireless customers may have restrictions on their selection of available i-wireless rate plan offerings
  • You must notify Access Wireless within 30 days if you no longer qualify for the program, or if you change your address
  • Access Wireless customers authorize Access Wireless to release any records required for the administration of the California LifeLine program as requested by the California LifeLine Administrator or the Universal Service Administrative Company.
  • Access Wireless is a service provider for the California LifeLine supported service
  • California LifeLine supported service is provided by i-wireless LLC d/b/a Access Wireless, an eligible telecommunications carrier
  • Violation of the one-per-household rule constitutes violation of CPUC and FCC rules and will result in the customer's de-enrollment from California LifeLine
  • Consumers who willfully make a false statement in order to obtain a California  LifeLine benefit can be punished by fine or imprisonment, or can be barred from the program
  • Customer information will be validated against public records and any discrepancies could result in delays in approval or rejection of service
  • Customers must annually renew their eligibility to continue receiving their California LifeLine supported service 

What do I do if I move or have a change of address?

You are required to update Access Wireless when you move or change your address. Within 30 days of your address change, call Customer Care at 1-866-594-3644 to update your account. 

Failure to update your account could result in de-enrollment from the California LifeLine program during your annual renewal.

Does Access Wireless provide a voice-grade connection?

Yes, California LifeLine customers have the ability to send and receive voice-grade calls over all domestic distances via a wireless voice-grade connection to the public switched telephone network. Domestic calls are not distance sensitive. Customers do not pay more for making a domestic long distance call versus making a call within their local exchange area.

What happens if a California LifeLine customer fails to receive a voice-grade connection and notifies Access Wireless?

California LifeLine customers can expect a voice-grade connection from Access Wireless. If you fail to receive a voice-grade connection and notify us, we will promptly restore the voice-grade connection, if possible. If it is not possible, we will provide telephone service to you using a different technology, if it is available and you consent.  If we are unable to provide you with a voice-grade connection, you have the right to terminate your California LifeLine benefit without penalty.

Are there times when my Access Wireless service may not work?

Access Wireless customers receive service on the Nationwide Sprint Network. While we strive to offer exceptional service to our customers 24/7, there are extenuating circumstances that could inhibit your quality-of-wireless service.

Service is subject to transmission limitations caused by certain equipment and compatibility issues, as well as atmospheric, topographical, proximity, and other conditions. Service can only be available when in range of a transmission source, which you should be aware of when leaving your home area. Service is dependent on radio towers, which require electricity to operate and could become non-functional in the event of a power outage if backup power is unavailable or runs out.

Further, service may be temporarily refused, limited, interrupted or curtailed due to system capacity limitations, technology migration or limitations imposed by Access Wireless or Sprint, or because of equipment modifications, upgrades, repairs, relocations, or similar activities necessary or proper for the operation or improvement of the carrier’s radio telephone system.  

These service limitation factors may also affect the ability to call 911.  Moreover, by removing your wireless cell phone from a residence that does not have other phone services, residents may not have a way to make 911 calls during an emergency.

Neither Access Wireless, nor any carrier, shall have any liability for service failures, outages or limitations of service.

What happens if Access Wireless discontinues its participation in the California LifeLine Program?

If Access Wireless were to discontinue offering our service to California residents through the California LifeLine Program, we would provide you with 30 days notice prior to your benefit being shut off.   This will provide you with time in which to transfer your benefit to another participating Lifeline service provider. 

Will an Access Wireless device work on another service provider’s network?

Handsets provided by Access Wireless are designed to be activated on our own networks and in coverage areas that we make available to you. As programmed, a handset provided by Access Wireless will work on the Nationwide Sprint Network. If you choose to leave Access Wireless, an Access Wireless handset may not be compatible with another carrier.

How can I contact Access Wireless?

Access Wireless Customer Care representatives are available during the following hours to help serve you:

Monday - Friday: 8 am - midnight EST
Saturday: 9 am - midnight EST
Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm EST

For New Service Questions/To Apply: 1-888-900-8920
For Current Customers: 1-866-594-3644

How can I contact CPUC Consumer Affairs Branch?

You can contact the California Public Utilities Commission Consumer Affairs Branch in the follow ways:

Telephone: 1-800-647-7570 (M-F 8:30am-4:30pm PST)

By Mail: 

CPUC Consumer Affairs Branch
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA. 94102