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Consumer Groups Urge CPUC to Deny Verizon Petition on TracFone Transfer

The California Public Utilities Commission should deny Verizon’s July 27 petition to modify the CPUC’s 2021 conditional approval of the carrier’s Tracfone buy, consumer groups urged Monday. Facing challenges to migrate Tracfone customers still using non-Verizon networks, the carrier asked…

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the CPUC to remove a Nov. 22 deadline and eliminate penalties (see 2307280060). Verizon separately sought a stay of the deadline (see 2308140047). The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT) responded in docket A.20-11-001 that the carrier’s modification request is “untimely, unjustified, and against the public interest.” The carrier was “on notice that any failure to complete the migration of TracFone customers to Verizon’s network will result in fines,” TURN and CforAT said. “If Verizon cannot meet the deadline set in Ordering Paragraph 8, there is no basis for the Commission to waive the penalties.” Customer migration was one of the CPUC’s top concerns when it reviewed the deal, the consumer groups said. “Verizon’s petition is not addressing a minor or inconsequential issue.” TURN and CforAT disputed Verizon’s argument that extending the penalty deadline benefits customers by giving them more time to decide whether to migrate networks. “If the Commission denies the petition, the consequences will not fall on the customers, but only on Verizon in the form of financial penalties.” Nothing in the FCC’s Verizon/Tracfone approval prohibited migrating customers two years from the transaction’s close as California required. “While complying with both the [CPUC’s] and the FCC’s conditions may not be ideal for Verizon … none of those conditions are in conflict.”