T-Mobile and the Federal Communications Commission have reached a $200 million agreement over Sprint’s Lifeline abuses.
T-Mobile merged with Sprint and quickly rose to the second-largest carrier in the US. One of T-Mobile’s biggest motivations for the merger was to gain access to Sprint’s wealth of mid-band spectrum, ideal for 5G deployment. It appears T-Mobile also got stuck with Sprint’s legal issues as well.
An Enforcement Bureau investigation determined that Sprint “was claiming monthly subsidies for serving approximately 885,000 Lifeline subscribers even though those subscribers were not using the service, in potential violation of the Commission’s ‘non-usage’ rule.” Lifeline is a program designed to help low-income families afford phone and broadband service.
Sprint had previously agreed to pay $200 million and enter a compliance program to ensure there were no future issues.
“Lifeline is key to our commitment to bringing digital opportunity to low-income Americans, and it is especially critical that we make the best use of taxpayer dollars for this vital program,” said Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m pleased that we were able to resolve this investigation in a manner that sends a strong message about the importance of complying with rules designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program. In addition to the great work of our Enforcement Bureau team, I would like to thank the Oregon Public Utility Commission for its efforts in this case. States play an important role in helping low-income consumers get access to affordable communications through Lifeline and making sure the program is run efficiently.”