Today, Public Knowledge and Communications Workers of America notified the Federal Communications Commission of the withdrawal of objections to the Verizon/TracFone merger in exchange for commitments from Verizon that protect TracFone’s most vulnerable subscribers. Access Humboldt, the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, and the California Center for Rural Policy also joined the letter withdrawing objections.
Verizon’s commitments benefit the public interest by ensuring that Verizon will continue to provide service with no additional co-pays to TracFone’s Lifeline subscribers for at least three years after the merger, continue to market Lifeline service throughout TracFone’s service area, and provide a 5G service plan to Lifeline subscribers within six months of closing on the merger. Although Public Knowledge withdraws any federal objections to the merger, the organization remains active at the state level to ensure state-specific protections for the public.
TracFone’s proposed merger with Verizon could significantly disrupt critical communications service for some of America’s most vulnerable citizens because it is one of the largest providers of wireless Lifeline service. Since the merger was first announced, 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.
The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“When this transaction was first announced, Verizon was very hesitant to make enforceable commitments to protect TracFone’s most vulnerable subscribers. After nearly a year of advocating for TracFone’s Lifeline subscribers, we believe that Verizon’s commitments are a win for consumers and serve the public interest. They mirror many of the commitments that Public Knowledge originally sought when it first opposed this transaction.
“We applaud the FCC for its efforts to ensure that this merger meets the necessary public interest standard. Refusing to streamline the Verizon/TracFone merger and embracing a robust review of the transaction were both necessary steps the Commission took to carefully review this merger and its consumer impact. These commitments represent the federal floor of what we believe is necessary to ensure that TracFone’s Lifeline subscribers do not get left behind.”
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