Washington–Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement after Verizon and several public interest groups announced an agreement on commitments from Verizon regarding its acquisition of TracFone, conditions that would preserve and protect Lifeline services. The lawmakers sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month, urging the Commission to scrutinize the acquisition and secure commitments to prioritize consumers.
“We are pleased that at our urging, Verizon has made new public commitments regarding Lifeline and budget subscribers as it readies its buy of TracFone,” said the senators. “We congratulate the public interest organizations that fought vigorously for these vital protections. These commitments should now be a floor and a starting place for the FCC’s review of the acquisition and negotiations with Verizon. As important as the terms of these commitments are, the conditions must be made legally binding, vigilantly monitored, and vigorously enforced to ensure the company makes good on these promises.”
In the $6.9 billion transaction, Verizon would acquire one of the largest operators of the Lifeline program which provides free or discounted internet and affordable prepaid mobile phone services to low-income Americans. TracFone’s SafeLink Wireless Brand supports 1.7 million Lifeline subscribers in 43 states and approximately 21 million customers overall. The full text of the senators’ July letter to the FCC is available here.