Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve Verizon’s acquisition of TracFone Wireless.
The approval comes with enforceable conditions for Verizon to address potential harms and ensure the transaction will be in the public interest. These include:
- Protecting low-income consumers from price increases;
- Ensuring that TracFone remains a supportive Lifeline participan for 7 years;
- Guaranteeing the availability of affordable 5G devices and service offerings to underserved consumers;
- Maintaining the existing packages of TracFone subscribers;
- Marketing and providing customer services for Lifeline and prepaid customers, including non-English speaking customers; and
- Making sure that customers are not left behind by the transition onto Verizon’s network.
When this transaction was first announced, Verizon was hesitant to make enforceable commitments to protect TracFone’s most vulnerable subscribers. Over the past year, Public Knowledge has advocated to secure commitments from Verizon that protect TracFone’s Lifeline subscribers and secure the Lifeline benefits that Verizon promised in its initial merger application. Consequently, Public Knowledge now believes that Verizon’s commitments and the conditions of this merger ensure it will benefit consumers.
The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Under the leadership of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the Commission has adopted conditions that protect the most vulnerable and cost-conscious consumers from potential harms. These include ensuring a strong commitment to participation in the Lifeline program, access to 5G and affordable handsets for Lifeline and low-income customers, and protection against upselling and unfair price increases.
“Chairwoman Rosenworcel clearly understands the difference between antitrust competition review and the more rigorous ‘public interest’ standard of the Communications Act. This conditioned approval bodes well for the public now that the Biden administration has moved forward on its nominees. We look forward to working with a Commission that acts so robustly to protect all consumers.
“We applaud the FCC for its thorough review of this merger, and its efforts to ensure that this merger meets the necessary public interest standard. With these commitments, a merged Verizon/Tracfone should provide better prepaid and Lifeline services to the benefit of low-income and price-conscious consumers.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.