On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission approved Verizon Wireless’ purchase of Tracfone for more than $ 6 billion, making Verizon one of the largest prepaid service providers in the United States.
Tracfone is the largest wireless device reseller in the United States, serving over 20 million subscribers in more than 90,000 retail locations. Verizon’s acquisition of Tracfone unites the largest cellular operator (MVNO) with the largest cellular operator in the country. When Verizon first proposed the deal last September, the company said the acquisition would strengthen Tracfone’s networks while making low-income cellular services more competitive.
“After a thorough review, the commission has determined that the transaction, as modified by Verizon’s enforceable commitments, makes Verizon and Tracfone stronger providers of prepaid and lifeline services,” the FCC said in a press release on Monday.
It is unclear which commissioners approved the deal. There are currently only two Democrats and two Republicans on the agency, which means at least one Democrat would have approved the purchase.
As part of their decision to approve the deal, the FCC said it would require Verizon to enter into several consumer protection agreements with the agency. Initially, Verizon promised to continue participating in the Lifeline sponsorship program for at least seven years. The company must also offer Lifeline customers âlow costâ 5G devices and services. Verizon is also required to provide semi-annual reports describing how it has complied with these restrictions.
Last Thursday, the California Public Utility Commission approved the deal and placed restrictions similar to those of the FCC. However, California regulators required Verizon’s Tracfone to be in the Lifeline program for at least 20 years. Customers also get free 5G-compatible devices and shouldn’t see any price increases for the cellular plan in the next five years.