Nov 22, 2021 - Technology

FCC approves Verizon's $6B purchase of TracFone

A photo illustration of a smartphone with the Verizon logo on the screen.

Photo illustration: Mateusz Slodkowski via Getty Images

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 it could reduce access to affordable phone service. They withdrew their objections this summer after Verizon committed to continuing to offer TracFone's current services to low-income customers via the government's Lifeline program.

  • 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.

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