Tempo Wireless is one of the oldest eligible telecommunication carriers (ETCs) in the country. And on the Tempo Wireless ACP free phone program, you can enjoy up to unlimited talk & text, plus mobile data to get online.
As you may know, the affordable connectivity program (ACP) is the program the government created in 2021 to offer broadband discounts to low-income individuals. If I may say, Tempo is a bit cagey about participating in the program, whereby the company website doesn’t even list it.
However, the FCC data sheet with the list of providers on the ACP program shows Tempo as one of the participants. And in this article, I’ve put together the various crucial details you should know before applying.
Tempo Wireless As An Eligible Telecommunication Carrier
As an eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC), Tempo Wireless (officially called Tempo Telecom) has the license to offer the government lifeline program. The license means the cellular provider can offer free cell phone service, then get reimbursed through the Universal Service Fund.
While not many know about it, Tempo Wireless has been offering free cell phone service from the government since 1996. However, the company went by the name Now Communications, LLC at the time.
Now Communications changed to Tempo Telecom, LLC in early 2013. The company president claimed the new name, Tempo, best reflects how they serve their prepaid and lifeline customers.
YES, Tempo does offer prepaid phone service if you may be interested. But the phone plan pricing isn’t as appealing as other prepaid providers. So, most of the subscribers using the company are on the free government phone program.
That said, you should know Tempo Telecom serves its subscribers through another carrier’s network. It doesn’t have cell towers, which puts it as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).
Tempo Wireless as an MVNO
Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is the name we use to refer to carriers that resell the service of a Major Carrier.
The Major Carrier network that Tempo Telecom uses is T-Mobile (GSM) alone, at the moment. Previously, the lifeline provider used to resell Sprint (CDMA) service as well. But Sprint and T-Mobile merged in 2020, whereby we later saw the GSM company retiring the CDMA network bands.
With Tempo as an MVNO of T-Mobile, the two will utilize the same network frequencies to connect on 4G LTE/ 5G. The difference is that T-Mobile is on the higher QCI priority, whereas Tempo Telecom is on the lower QCI priority.
In other words, T-Mobile customers (on postpaid and some prepaid plans) will have better data speeds than Tempo Lifeline/ ACP/ prepaid customers during network congestion.
Tempo Wireless as an ACP Provider
As mentioned earlier, Tempo Telecom is not open about participating in the affordable connectivity program (ACP). I’ve only been able to confirm that the company is participating through an ACP data sheet compiled on the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) page.
As an ETC, Tempo Telecom automatically qualified to participate in the ACP program. The automatic participation, though, was only for the areas the company had a SAC (study area code) number to offer lifeline service.
Currently, Tempo has free phone service with Lifeline and ACP programs in only twenty-one states. It’s not the same states (at least not all) I listed to have the Terracom Wireless free phone program, though.
|Maryland Michigan Minnesota Missouri
|Nebraska NevadaNorth Dakota
|West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
While on ACP, Tempo Wireless isn’t one of the companies you can get free tablet for low-income families. It only offers a monthly phone service discount, which brings you free talk minutes, text messages, and mobile data.
Tempo Wireless ACP Free Phone Plans
Again, Tempo Telecom currently doesn’t advertise its ACP plans. The free cell phone plans they have listed on the website are only for their Lifeline program.
Speaking of plans, Tempo used to have slight issues in compliance with the plan standards the FCC has laid for the Universal Service Fund Lifeline beneficiaries. But the company seems to have changed its ways, as they now meet the minimum requirements.
In the lifeline phone plans, Tempo gives you unlimited talk minutes & text messages, plus 4.5GB of data per month. You can use the talk minutes and text messages to communicate with your family, friends, co-workers, and others anywhere in the country.
Sadly, you can’t use your free talk minutes or texts allowance to connect internationally. The terms & conditions state “Tempo does not currently offer International Calling… attempting to send international messages could result in service deactivation and de-enrollment”.
However, mobile data provides access to social platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. Social media apps allow users to connect not only inside the US but also outside the country.
In 2020, Tempo was one of the telecommunication companies that signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge 2019. In the pledge, the carrier agreed to temporarily increase its high-speed data from 3GB to 8 GB.
Keep Americans connected only lasted two or three months until May 2020. But shortly after this, the government started planning the emergency broadband benefit (EBB), which would offer low-income consumers broadband discounts.
Tempo Telecom was one of the phone carriers you could get an EBB discount. At the time, the Lifeline provider increased the mobile data allowance to 20GB, which was slightly better than most competitors.
After the government replaced the EBB with ACP, Tempo continued to offer the broadband discount. I’ve not been able to confirm the high-speed data allowance the phone provider gives on the ACP alongside the unlimited talk & text. But I’ve seen people share on community forums to still get 20GB of data.
What Kind of Tempo Wireless ACP Free Phone Will I Get?
As you already know, the ACP program doesn’t offer just a free broadband discount. Some of the service providers participating in the program may also give you up to a $100 discount on connected devices. The “connected devices” can be either a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
Unfortunately, Tempo Telecom participates in the ACP program but doesn’t offer the connected device discount. And for that, you won’t receive a free tablet, as this is what most Lifeline carriers offer under the “connected devices” discount.
Fortunately, though, Tempo does offer free touch screen government phones on its Lifeline program. The company, like most other Lifeline carriers, doesn’t advertise the brand of phone they give you, though.
However, after extensive research, I’ve come to learn the kind of phone Tempo gives you if eligible for the Lifeline program is a Blu C5L. The smartphone is far from the free iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and other high-end smartphones the likes of AirTalk Wireless offer. But it still has specs and features enough for basic use, such as:
- A 5.0-inch, VGA display
- Supports up to 4G LTE network
- 16GB internal storage & 1GB RAM
- A MicroSD slot to expand storage space
- WiFi 4 (802.11n) & Bluetooth connectivity
Tempo Wireless Bring Your Own Phone Number
Once you’ve enrolled and qualified for the free government phone with Tempo Telecom, you’ll receive the order through the mail. The order will come with a free cellular phone and a SIM card for your service.
If doing everything new-ish, your service SIM will have a new Tempo phone number to activate with. The cellphone number, just like a device, is not something you can choose what to get. But we can say it becomes yours permanently, such that you may take it with you when leaving.
Meanwhile, you can bring your own phone number to Tempo Telecom. It’s a great idea when you want the people who already have your number from the previous carrier to still reach you on Tempo.
To get Tempo Wireless free phone service with your existing number, you just need to wait for your new device order to arrive. Then contact Tempo customer support at 1-888-565-1011 to initiate the number transfer/ porting.
(You’ll need to have the account details from your previous carrier to initiate the number porting. Such details include account number& PIN, full name, physical address, et cetra).
After that, the Tempo Customer rep will contact your old carrier on your behalf and initiate the number porting.
How to Get Tempo Wireless Free Phone & Service
At this point, we’ve talked about Tempo’s participation in the free government phone program and what they give you. But now, how do you get Tempo free phone and service?
Simply, the secret to getting Tempo Wireless free phone is to apply and qualify. But before you apply, make sure you’ll qualify, which is why the company will ask on the Signup to first “register with the National Verifier and get an approved application ID”.
The National Verifier is the database system of USAC that determines whether you’re eligible for the ACP or Lifeline program. Universal service administrative company (USAC) is the institution the FCC (federal communication) has obligated to administer Lifeline and ACP programs.
For the National Verifier to consider you eligible for the Lifeline or ACP program, you must come from a low-income family. And to be considered from a low-income family, you’ll need to either have a low income within the required cap or participate in a government-funded assistance benefit.
Are You on Low Income or Assistance Program?
For you to get Tempo Telecom free phone with a low income, your gross amount must be at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines. Then to apply with a government assistance benefit, you’ll need either of the accepted options, such as:
- Supplemental security income (SSI)
- Federal public housing assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans & Veteran’s Survivors Pension
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps
- Head Start, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, and other Tribal-administered assistance programs.
Note: Once the National Verifier approves your application and has the application ID, visit https://lifeline.mytempo.com/ to complete enrollment. The enrolment starts with checking the Tempo coverage in your area, which requires entering your home ZIP code. (You can also apply by phone by calling customer care at 1-833-998-3676).
Key Takeaway: What are Tempo Wireless APN Settings
Once you receive and activate your Tempo cell phone, you should be able to call, text, and use mobile data functions without issues. If you can call and text but can’t browse or use any other data features, chances will be your monthly data allotment is depleted or has incorrect internet configurations.
In the case of internet configuration, the correct Tempo Telecom APN settings are:
|Select > IPv4/IPv6
|APN Roaming Protocol:
|(Leave blank or keep the same)
If still interested at this point, that’s everything crucial you should know about Tempo Wireless ACP free phones. I’m not going to lie the Lifeline provider is one of my Top favorite choices. But it does bring the low-income families who can’t afford phone and broadband services free of charge.
Tempo service will work best in the metropolises of the 21 states I’ve mentioned. Its Carrier Network, T-Mobile, is still limited in rural areas (Sprint used to cover various remote areas before T-Mobile decommissioned its frequencies).
In any case, Tempo’s terms & conditions highlight they offer mobile roaming as an add-on feature on some service plans. But I’d recommend adding roaming only when traveling outside your native coverage areas.
If Tempo service, or rather the T-Mobile network, is poor in your region, apply for the free ACP/ Lifeline phone program with another provider that works.