CWA: FCC must pause T-Mobile-Sprint merger review pending investigation into Sprint’s Lifeline program fraud

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced that Sprint fraudulently received millions of dollars in federal subsidies by falsely claiming it provided Lifeline service to 885,000 inactive subscribers. Lifeline is a beneficial federal program that provides low-income Americans access to free or affordable phone and broadband services.

“The FCC must pause the T-Mobile-Sprint merger review pending an investigation into Sprint's fraud and abuse of the Lifeline program,” said Debbie Goldman, CWA Research and Telecommunications Policy Director. “This fraud calls into question the character of Sprint as a licensee. FCC precedent is clear that a company cannot sell a license until the character issue is investigated and resolved.”

Following the news from the FCC, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks tweeted, “Sprint wants to merge with T-Mobile in one of the largest wireless transactions in history. FCC just announced its largest Lifeline investigation ever. This raises questions about character and the thoroughness of our record. The merger should be paused until we figure this out.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also tweeted, “When companies abuse the Lifeline program we should throw the book at them. Here's what we shouldn't do: Kick off the millions of seniors, veterans, and domestic violence shelters nationwide that rely on this program to stay connected.”

Today’s FCC announcement on Sprint’s fraudulent activity came after an initial investigation by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Links:

Sprint Received Lifeline Subsidies for 885,000 Inactive Subscribers (FCC, Sep. 24, 2019)