Opponents of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger have petitioned the FCC to pause its review of the deal--actually an order approving the deal has already been circulated and is widely believed to already have gotten enough votes for approval once the Democrats have cast their votes.
They cite the FCC's recent launch of an investigation into possible Lifeline broadband subsidy fraud by Sprint--the company says it was nothing of the sort--but also repeated their calls for fresh comment on the deal following changes to the agreement made after the public comment period had closed.
"The allegations against Sprint warrant investigation and delay of any Commission action on the T-Mobile-Sprint Application until such investigation is resolved," they said of the Lifeline inquiry.
The FCC can't sign off on a deal if the fitness of one of the parties to hold an FCC license is in question, which the groups say is the case given the Lifeline issue.
FCC chair Ajit Pai last week launched an Enforcement Bureau investigation into what he said was apparently an "outrageous" violation of the FCC's rules on Lifeline broadband subsidies by Sprint.
That rule requires Lifeline providers to "de-enroll" subs who aren't using their phones. The FCC said Sprint's violation was uncovered by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which Pai thanks for its efforts. “States are an important partner with the FCC in both helping low-income consumers get access to affordable communications through Lifeline and cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse in the program," he said.
The FCC had no comment at press time.
Signing on to the petition were the Communications Workers Of America (CWA) [which has already individually called for a pause]; Consumer Reports; Institute For Local Self-Reliance; New America’s Open Technology Institute; NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association; Open Markets Institute; Public Knowledge; the Rural Wireless Association; and The Greenlining Institute.
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