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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

Texts or calls to 988 must route to suicide prevention hotline by July

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Thursday to require phone companies to route text messages sent to "988" to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Why it matters: By making it easier to text the Lifeline, the FCC aims to increase accessibility for communities at a higher risk of suicide and mental health crises.

Updated 32 mins ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

4 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.