POSTED: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 7:11am
UPDATED: Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 3:56pm
Last year along: 1.6 billion covered free phones
Tyler — Last year, a federal program paid out $1.6 billion to cover free cell phones and the monthly bills of 12.5 million wireless accounts.
The program, overseen by the FCC and intended to help low-income Americans, is popular for obvious reasons, with participation rising steeply since 2008, when the government paid $772 million for phones and monthly bills.
But observers complain that the program suffers from poor oversight, in which phones go to people who don't qualify, and hundreds of thousands of those who do qualify have more than one phone.