AUGUSTA, Maine, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- TracFone Wireless, Inc., America's largest prepaid cell phone provider, announced its Maine launch of SafeLink Wireless®. Introduced in August 2008, SafeLink is the leader in Wireless Lifeline service – a U.S. government supported program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for eligible low-income households. SafeLink is the only offering of its kind available in Maine with 145,246 residents who qualify for Lifeline services in the Pine Tree State. Asserting that free does mean free, SafeLink provides the cell phone at its own expense and service comes without contracts, monthly bills, security deposits or credit checks. "TracFone has a long record of serving the communications needs of the citizens of New England," said Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone. "We are proud to be able to now bring SafeLink Wireless to Maine's neediest families, offering them the same access and privileges many individuals take for granted when it comes to using cell phones, including contact with current or potential employers, children away from the home, or relatives in other parts of the country, not to mention vital emergency responders," added Fuentes. SafeLink Wireless offers low-income families accessibility, freedom and the security of knowing that should an emergency occur – wherever they are – they will stay safe and stay connected. SafeLink provides eligible low-income households 68 free monthly airtime minutes for one year, unlimited access to 911 and the free cell phone. Any unused minutes do not expire and automatically roll over. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, call waiting, international calling to over 60 destinations, and caller ID. The federal "Lifeline" program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supported on a broadly bipartisan basis in Congress. The FCC's Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable and affordable rates. Lifeline support reduces eligible low-income consumers' monthly charges for basic telephone service. With SafeLink, TracFone was the first to modernize Lifeline for how people communicate today. The prepaid feature gives customers the freedom to control the cost of their monthly telephone expense without any surprises. SafeLink customers wishing to use additional minutes beyond their free allotment can add minutes by purchasing TracFone airtime cards at local retailers. As an exclusive benefit for SafeLink customers, SafeLink phones will automatically add bonus minutes on TracFone's 60, 90 and 120 minute airtime cards.