[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission took its first major step toward overhauling the controversial Lifeline program in a move that will punish not just low-income citizens but perhaps small, innovative service providers as well. Yes, Lifeline was once teeming with fraud, waste and abuse. Yes, the program still has significant flaws. And yes, companies that fail to provide adequate services should be forever barred from Lifeline for preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Whether it's more fiber deployments by AT&T or T-Mobile offering fixed wireless broadband in rural areas, Charter is ready for the competition. Charter CFO Chris Winfrey said Charter was well-positioned to handle all types of competition across all infrastructures due to the continued investments it has made in its network. "We are growing against all competitors in all markets irrespective of the competitive infrastructure," Winfrey said. "And our results really demonstrate that when you compare that to the competition.
For years, Verizon appeared to bend over backwards to avoid the prepaid wireless segment, where service plans traditionally targeted the cheaper end of the market and customer turnover runs higher. But with the nearly $7 billion agreement to buy prepaid leader Tracfone from América Móvil, Verizon is jumping in with both feet.
AT&T CFO John Stephens said that adding more fiber was about more than just passing additional homes. "I think about the fiber being part of my core transport network, and serving business customers and connecting to large business customers and small business customers, and then I think of it as an opportunity to connect the homes," he said. "So I have a three-for-one in this integrated carrier environment that really gives me a different opportunity than others. When I say three-for-one, that's three revenue opportunities, as well as a really efficient cost structure.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is taking issue with Verizon’s proposed acquisition of Tracfone. The trade union says Tracfone is one of the largest providers of Lifeline services in the United States, and it fears those services could be jeopardized if Tracfone is acquired by Verizon. CWA also says the prospect of the acquisition raises significant antitrust concerns, which could negatively affect consumer prices and workers’ wages in the wireless industry. Verizon is trying to buy the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Tracfone for $6.9 billion.