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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Verizon vows to guard Tracfone’s low-income customers in new merger promise

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On Thursday, Verizon introduced a variety of recent public commitments to guard low-income shoppers in reference to its proposed acquisition of Tracfone. The commitments are a part of a cope with public-interest teams and communications staff unions, who’ve agreed to assist the acquisition on the premise of at this time’s announcement.

For its a part of the deal, Verizon pledges to proceed to offer Tracfone’s Lifeline subsidy packages for no less than three years after the merger closes. Verizon can also be promising to supply a sponsored 5G program for low-income Tracfone customers. In line with the Communication Employees of America (CWA), over 1.7 million Tracfone prospects rely on the Lifeline program.

The CWA, Public Information, and the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society had initially criticized Verizon’s proposed buy of Tracfone, suggesting that the deal may hurt Tracfone’s low-income buyer base. However the teams introduced Thursday that they might be withdrawing their opposition in response to the brand new concessions.

“These commitments guarantee TracFone prospects will proceed to have entry to Lifeline, a vital program for hundreds of thousands of households,” senior CWA researcher Brian Thorn mentioned in a press release Thursday. “Right this moment’s success wouldn’t have been potential with out the assist of our allies and an FCC interested by defending the pursuits of consumers over firms.”

Final September, Verizon introduced its plan to buy Tracfone in a deal valued at greater than $6 million. The acquisition would give Verizon over 20 million new subscribers and a tighter grasp on the low-income wi-fi and worth cellphone market. Verizon plans to shut the deal earlier than the top of the yr, though the present standing of the Federal Communications Fee’s evaluate of the merger is unknown.

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Earlier this yr, a number of Senate Democrats referred to as on the FCC so as to add comparable situations to Verizon’s proposed merger to guard low-income subscribers. On Thursday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA), amongst others, applauded the brand new situations.

“These commitments ought to now be a flooring and a beginning place for the FCC’s evaluate of the acquisition and negotiations with Verizon,” the senators wrote. “As necessary because the phrases of those commitments are, the situations have to be made legally binding, vigilantly monitored, and vigorously enforced to make sure the corporate makes good on these guarantees.”

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