Wednesday Waste: Free Cell Phones?

The Federal Communications Commission has been providing free cell phones to those who are unable to pay for them since 2008, but how much is this program costing us today? Well in Ohio, roughly double what it did last year. According to a recent report by the Dayton Daily News, after reviewing the program’s public data, first quarter spending on the program was $26.9 million, up from $15.6 million last year.

The program is expected to cost taxpayers $75.4 million this year in Ohio alone. But, the FCC has insisted that the program is more efficient after last year’s reduction of waste, fraud and duplicative disbursements were reduced to less than 7 percent of the program’s budget. So why are costs skyrocketing? Because the program now permits makers of pre-paid phones to distribute phones to those who qualify. Pre-paid companies will now receive $10 per month, per subscriber. In Ohio the number of companies providing services increased from four in 2011 to nine currently.

“It’s certainly growing, and it’s growing because there are more companies entering the program and offering more services to people,” said USAC Spokesman Eric Iversen. But, with so many programs draining state and federal budgets, isn’t this just one more example of Wednesday Waste?

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