FCC Puts Verizon-TracFone Deal in Spotlight

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The FCC wants more details from Verizon about its proposed acquisition of prepaid operator TracFone Wireless. Among the agency’s issues of concern are Lifeline service, device availability and how the merger will affect the carrier’s existing mobile virtual network operator arrangements.

The agency wants copies of the transaction between Verizon and América Móvil that the parties estimate to be worth up to $6.9 billion, and also any side or related deals. The Commission wants copies of any antitrust material provided to the Department of Justice.  

The FCC wants to know of any intended changes that Verizon plans in TracFone’s operations, goals, financing, products and services. It wants Verizon to specify the public interest benefits of the deal. 

The agency states that the Verizon and América Móvil claim that post-transaction, the combined Verizon/TracFone will have “substantially lower costs, expanded device lineups, and more distribution outlets” and enable the merged company to better compete against AT&T, T-Mobile and DISH. The FCC wants to see financial information to back up those claims.

It’s particularly interested in where Verizon markets its Lifeline service and where it does not, and how that compares with TracFone’s Lifeline offerings. The FCC asks specifically: “Explain whether Verizon plans to continue to offer all current TracFone Lifeline plans to new and existing customers and whether it plans to change any terms and conditions of those plans.”

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