Assistance Programs

These programs are available for customers with telephone service.

Federal Lifeline

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline Program provides for discounted telephone service for Americans whose income falls below certain guidelines. Following is information about the program and how it works.

Eligibility Guidelines
If your income level falls at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you will qualify for discounted telephone service under the terms of the FCC’s Lifeline Program. Consumers will also be eligible to receive the discount if they’re receiving assistance from at least one of the following programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension Benefit.

Tribal Lifeline Program
Another version of the Lifeline Program is the Tribal Program. It provides basic telephone service for just $1 per month to people of all races living on tribal lands and expands the eligibility requirements to also include those participating in Tribal Head Start (those meeting the incoming qualifying standard), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) general assistance programs, Tribally administered Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TTANF) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

Enrollment Information
We have contracted with NECA Services, Inc. (NSI) to perform many of the reporting and auditing functions required by the FCC for this program. For more information about the program, go to their website at: To enroll in the Lifeline Program, please call the business office for more information.

Minnesota Telephone Assistance Plan

The Minnesota Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP) helps make telephone service affordable to low-income consumers.

How do I find out if I’m eligible?

Contact Runestone Telecom Association to ask if you qualify. Consumers enrolled in the following programs may already be eligible:
• Federal Public Housing Assistance
• Medical Assistance
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
• Supplemental Security Income
• Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension Benefit
• Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
• Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
• Head Start
• Food Distribution Program

OR you could qualify if your total household income does not exceed 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

How do I apply?

To get the current application for this program, please click here: Minnesota Telephone Service Discount Application Lifeline and Telephone Assistance Program

For more information on TAP, click HERE

Runestone Telecom Association can assist you with the application, or contact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for assistance at:


Telephone Equipment Distribution (TED)

 This program provides free specialized telecommunications equipment to income-eligible Minnesotans who are having trouble using the telephone due to a hearing, speech or physical disability.

For more information on the TED program, call
1-800-657-3663 (voice)
1-888-206-6555 (TTY)
or go to the website click here

Minnesota Relay

Phone family, friends or vital services even if you have a hearing, speech or physical disability. Minnesota Relay is a free service, providing full telephone accessibility for anyone who is hard of hearing, deaf or speech disabled, through the use of specially trained communications assistants (CA). Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call next door or internationally. Calls are 100% confidential.

Now it is easier than ever to make a Minnesota Relay call….Just dial 711. Once connected to the relay service, tell the CA the type of relay call you want to make. Or, dial the specific toll free number for the type of relay call you want to make.

Services available are:

Text Telephone (TTY).…1-800-627-3529
Allows anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled to use a TTY to communicate with anyone using a standard telephone.

Standard Telephone
A hearing person uses a standard telephone to place a relay call and easily converse with a person who is deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled.

Captioned Telephone (CAPTEL)
CapTel allows a person who has hearing loss to receive word-for-word captions of phone conversations. Captions are displayed on the CapTel phone’s display screen so the user can read the words while listening to the voice of the other party. CapTel phone required.

Hearing Carry Over (HCO).
Allows a hearing person with very limited or no speech capabilities to make a phone call. Requires a special phone.

Voice Carry Over (VCO).
Allows anyone who has difficulty hearing on the phone to voice conversations directly to a hearing person. Requires a special phone.

2 Line Voice Carry Over 
Allows a VCO user to use one phone line for speaking directly to the other person, and a second line to receive the CA’s typed response from the other person. Requires additional service and equipment.

Spanish Relay
The CA relays calls between a Spanish speaking person with a hearing or speech disability and a Spanish speaking hearing person.

Speech to Speech (STS)
Allows a person who has difficulty speaking or being understood on the phone to communicate using his/her own voice or voice synthesizer.

Set communications software to the following protocols: speeds ranging from 300 to 2400; 8 Bits; No Parity; 1 Stop Bit; Full Duplex. When calling at a rate of 300 or below, follow the above using Half Duplex.

900 Pay-per-Call Services
Allows a relay user to connect to any pay-per-call service.

For more information, call 1-800-657-3775 (Voice/TTY)or go to their website at