On Thursday, August 12, Verizon announced a range of new public commitments to protect low-income consumers in connection with its proposed acquisition of Tracfone. The commitments are part of a deal with public-interest groups and communications workers unions, who have agreed to support the acquisition on the basis of today’s announcement.
For its part of the deal, Verizon pledges to continue to provide Tracfone’s Lifeline subsidy programs for at least three years after the merger closes. Verizon is also promising to offer a subsidized 5G program for low-income Tracfone users. According to the Communication Workers of America (CWA), over 1.7 million Tracfone customers depend on the Lifeline program.
The CWA, Public Knowledge, and the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society had initially criticized Verizon’s proposed purchase of Tracfone, suggesting that the deal could harm Tracfone’s low-income customer base. But the groups announced on Thursday that they would be withdrawing their opposition in response to the new concessions.
“These commitments ensure TracFone customers will continue to have access to Lifeline, an essential program for millions of families,” senior CWA researcher Brian Thorn said in a statement. “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.”
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