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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

Several groups that had opposed Verizon's purchase of Tracfone say that they are satisfied with fresh commitments being made to the FCC and will withdraw their objections to the deal.

Why it matters: The status of Verizon's purchase of the low-cost prepaid brand had been unclear amid the concerns.

Details: Under the new concessions, Verizon is committing to continue for at least three years TracFone's current services offered to low-income customers via the federal government's Lifeline program.

  • Tracfone has 1.7 million customers in 43 states that take advantage of Lifeline to subsidize their service costs.

The big picture: For Verizon, the Tracfone deal represents its biggest move yet into the prepaid business, while AT&T had purchased Cricket and T-Mobile had bought MetroPCS.

What they're saying:

  • Brian Thorn, senior researcher, Communication Workers of America: “These commitments ensure TracFone customers will continue to have access to Lifeline, an essential program for millions of families. Today’s success would not have been possible without the support of our allies and an FCC interested in protecting the interests of customers over corporations.”
  • 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."

Go deeper

Aug 11, 2021 - Technology

Verizon's 5G-equipped vehicle is built for disaster

Verizon's Swiss Army Knife for communication and disaster response. Photo: Verizon

This is THOR, Verizon's Tactical Humanitarian Operations Response vehicle, which the communications giant calls a 5G-enabled Swiss Army Knife on wheels.

Why it matters: It's a prototype of a vehicle that the Verizon Response Team — which handles major emergencies — could send to a disaster zone like a wildfire or hurricane to establish communications when other networks are down. It enables emergency responders from multiple agencies to communicate more easily.

Details: Built on a modified Ford F650 chassis, THOR can provide its own mobile network, along with commercial satellite options and radio communications.

  • It can be operated remotely from a tablet and comes with a drone that can fly ahead to provide aerial views for situational awareness.

Fun fact: Verizon's Response Team has a menagerie of field equipment they call The Barnyard: COWs (Cell On Wheels), COLTs (Cell On Light Trucks), CROWs (Cellular Repeater On Wheels) and GOATs (Generator On A Trailer).

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.