Once upon a time.....the federal government.....compliments of your Congressmen and Senators.....decided that the public didn't have access to the vital requirement of having phone-access. So, they invented a subsidy.
To get at the subsidy, you had to go to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because they were given control over the funding.
In the beginning, there was Lifeline.....created during the Reagan era.....in 1985. Lifeline was to provide a discount on your basic monthly phone service.
You had to meet one of two goals, in order to get Lifeline: (1) Make an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines. Or (2) Participate in one of the following assistance programs:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP);
Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
Federal Public House Assistance (Section 8);
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF);
National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program;
Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance;
Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF);
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR);
Head Start; or
State assistance programs (if applicable).
The limit? One single phone per household.
Link-Up America was program number two.....coming from the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Yep, same folks....your Senators and Congressmen.....from the Clinton era.
Link-Up America had a slightly different theme. It was built to pay 50-percent of the initial installation fee for regular old-fashioned telephone service (up to a max of $30), or wireless telephone. The remaining cost? It could be put on a interest-free and deferred schedule deal.
So you look over these. Both started up in 1980s and 1990s.....long before Obama came into the picture.
Lifeline barely got noticed in the 1980s. Some counselors and community action people hyped the program in urban areas, and it got picked up. Link-Up America got the same attention. An odd thing came up roughly a decade ago....in that cellphones suddenly became the popular way of people communicating. Companies aimed their product at the masses and sold them on cheaper phones. Both programs got pumped up even more since the 2008 election, but they've been around a minimum of twenty years.
The best you can say is that cellphones arriving in bulk within the poorer communities of America occurred during the Obama administration, and people took advantage of them.