The Communications Workers of America, no fan of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger in the best of times, said the FCC should pause its proposed approval of the deal given what FCC chair Ajit Pai called Sprint's "outrageous" conduct.
The FCC's three Republicans have signaled they will vote to approve the deal item, which was circulated several weeks ago, but the FCC has not signaled that the vote has been completed.
The FCC this week launched an investigation into what it said was Sprint's apparent violation of the FCC's rules on Lifeline broadband subsidies.
“Lifeline is an important component of our efforts to bring digital opportunity to low-income Americans, and stopping waste, fraud, and abuse in the program has been a top priority of mine since I’ve been at the Commission,” said Pai this week. “It’s outrageous that a company would claim millions of taxpayer dollars for doing nothing.
Sprint said it was a mistake it has fixed and would pay back the money.
“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, research and telecommunications policy director for CWA. "This fraud calls into question the character of Sprint as a licensee." Goldman said that FCC precedent was "clear" that "a company cannot sell a license until the character issue is investigated and resolved.”
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.