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CPUC OKs Verizon/Tracfone -- With Expected Conditions; FCC OK Needed

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously cleared Verizon/Tracfone. The FCC may be the only U.S. regulatory OK now needed for the multibillion-dollar takeover.

CPUC commissioners voted 5-0 at a virtual meeting Thursday to allow the deal. They agreed to the conditions that were recently proposed by a commission administrative law judge, including a 20-year commitment to California LifeLine.

Consumer protection conditions ensure the deal is in the public interest and add benefits for low-income customers, said Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen, assigned to docket A.20-11-001. It's important to ensure a “seamless” customer migration without service interruptions, he said. Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves said the main reason she supports the order is the enforceable requirement that the new company participates in state LifeLine for 20 years.

Verizon would have to complete migration of all Tracfone customers currently on other networks in two years, under a revised draft from earlier this week, which in response to Verizon concerns relaxed some proposed requirements in last month’s first draft. The new company would be required to have at least 200,000 LifeLine subscribers by Dec. 30, 2025. The proposed order also included reporting requirements and an enforcement program like the one the commission adopted in its T-Mobile/Sprint order.

Verizon didn't immediately comment.