T-Mobile will pay a $ 200 million fine to the government to settle a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation of its subsidiary Sprint failing to comply with FCC regulations on a program. for low-income consumers, the agency said Wednesday.
The announcement comes following an investigation of reports that Sprint, prior to its merger with T-Mobile, requested a monthly grant to serve approximately 885,000 Lifeline subscribers, helping to provide affordable service for low-income customers, even though those registrants are not using the service, the FCC said.
In addition to paying the $ 200 million civil penalty, Sprint has agreed to participate in a compliance plan to help ensure compliance with FCC rules for the Lifeline program in the future, according to the notice.
“While we inherited this issue with our consolidation, we̵7;re glad it’s been resolved now,” T-Mobile said in a statement. “We aim to continue to provide reliable and affordable networking to consumers nationwide who depend on it.”
The investigation has considered Sprint’s compliance with the Lifeline program’s “no use” rule, which will reimburse service providers to a Lifeline subscription if the subscriber has already used the service. service at least once in the past 30 days. It also requires providers to unsubscribe from subscriptions not using their phones after 15 days’ notice.
The rule “is intended to protect Lifeline from wasting taxpayer money on a service not being used to benefit individual consumers,” according to the FCC.
Providers participating in the program receive a monthly allowance of $ 9.25 for most Lifeline members, which must be passed on to consumers as a discount.
The FCC said the issue regarding Sprint’s failure to comply with the rule came up after an investigation by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.
A T-Mobile spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.