FCC approves Verizon’s $6B purchase of TracFone


By: Margaret Harding McGill

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday said it had approved Verizon’s $6 billion purchase of wireless company TracFone, after the companies agreed to conditions meant to protect consumers.

Why it matters: The FCC was the last regulatory hurdle for Verizon, which expects to close the transaction in the coming days.

Catch up quick: Public interest groups had opposed the deal over concerns [3] it could reduce access to affordable phone service. They withdrew their objections [4]this summer after Verizon committed to continuing to offer TracFone’s current services to low-income customers via the government’s Lifeline program [5].

* The Lifeline program, administered by the FCC, provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy to companies that provide phone or broadband service to low-income consumers, generally at no out-of-pocket cost to the customer.

Driving the news: The FCC said Verizon made several commitments to secure agency approval, including:

* Offering TracFone’s Lifeline services for at least seven years.
* Offering a 5G plan and cost-effective 5G devices to existing and new Lifeline customers.
* Submitting publicly available reports with information on Lifeline and non-Lifeline customers for seven years.

Between the lines: TracFone has a large Lifeline customer base, but Verizon has not been a major player in the program.

* Verizon’s move into the prepaid market with TracFone will position it to compete against AT&T’s Cricket and T-Mobile’s MetroPCS.

What they’re saying: “The deal will provide customers with the best of both worlds: more choices, better services and new features thanks to Verizon’s investment and innovation,” Kathy Grillo, Verizon senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, said in a statement.

[1] https://www.axios.com/technology
[2] https://www.axios.com/authors/mmcgill/
[3] https://www.axios.com/verizon-tracfone-merger-fcc-lifeline-70618b1d-c5b7-490b-aefe-020851e83b37.html
[4] https://www.axios.com/groups-withdraw-objections-verizon-tracfone-deal-263e58d4-ed50-4ff2-9d7d-01c4acef3c93.html
[5] https://www.axios.com/fcc-lifeline-broadband-underused-during-coronavirus-pandemic-1e04ad19-3ea6-496b-a9ae-0e0260ac71ff.html

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