A group of 17 US state attorney generals urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose conditions on Verizon’s $6.25 billion deal to acquire MVNO Tracfone, arguing these were needed to address concerns about the move’s impact on low-income customers.
The legal officials highlighted differences between Tracfone and Verizon’s participation in the government’s Lifeline mobile subsidy programme, noting the MVNO serves consumers in 43 states while the operator does so in just four. They warned any move by Verizon to reduce “access and/or quality of Lifeline services could shut out millions of low-income Americans from adequate communications services”.
Verizon reiterated its previously stated intent to continue offering Lifeline service through Tracfone in a statement to Mobile World Live, adding its plans to further develop the MVNO brand “will benefit value-conscious consumers”.
However, the attorney generals pressed the FCC to formally require Verizon to provide Lifeline service packages that are “at least commensurate with, if not more consumer friendly than, Tracfone’s existing lowest-cost” offerings.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union highlighted similar concerns about the deal’s impact on Lifeline in November 2020, and a month later pressed the FCC to require Verizon to maintain Tracfone’s Lifeline footprint and packages for at least five years, and make 5G service and devices available to Lifeline customers.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back