T-Mobile pledges to support Sprint’s Lifeline Assistance program ‘indefinitely’ if merger is approved

assurance-wireless

T-Mobile has made several commitments in its effort to get its merger with Sprint approved by regulators, and today T-Mo has made another promise.

T-Mobile will continue to support Sprint’s Assurance Wireless brand “indefinitely” if its merger is approved, T-Mobile president and COO Mike Sievert has confirmed. Assurance Wireless, which is part of Sprint prepaid brand Virgin Mobile, takes part in the Lifeline Assistance program and offers discounted service to those in public assistance programs like Medicaid or SNAP or even a free phone and service to qualifying low-income households.

“The digital divide is real and we want to help eliminate it,” Sievert said to USA Today. “We have pledged that the New T-Mobile will maintain the existing T-Mobile and Sprint Lifeline program throughout the country indefinitely, barring fundamental changes to today‚Äôs program.”

Sprint’s Assurance Wireless is available in 41 states across the U.S. as well as Washington D.C. T-Mobile offers its own Lifeline program with discounted service in nine states and Puerto Rico.

T-Mobile has made multiple commitments in an effort to win approval for its merger with Sprint. Those include a pledge to build five new Customer Experience Centers in the U.S., which T-Mo claims will add 1,000 new jobs each, and a promise that the New T-Mobile will offer the same or better rate plans at current or lower prices as those offered by T-Mobile or Sprint for at least three years.

Meanwhile, the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger recently gained some opposition in the form of more than 30 House Democrats who urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and DOJ Antitrust Division head Makan Delrahim to reject the deal. A letter sent to Pai and Delrahim by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) claims that the merger will “disproportionately hurt lower income people and communities of color” by reducing competition.

The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is still being reviewed by the FCC and DOJ. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure will testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, March 12th, regarding the merger.

Source: USA Today

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  • riverhorse

    Also part of this is a free modem+internet for students in some cities.. All you need is a lower school ID and a library card.

  • Wow, just think if they didnt continue it. The potential revolt of customers.

    • Bklynman

      I not trying to mean mean or anything,but if they did cancel it,where would customers go? Metro,At&t,Big Red? Mint? Freedompop?Virgin,Boost? Cricket? Not too many choices.

      • Ben

        Probably Tracfone’s Safelink, which is also lifeline “free” service.

    • vrm

      yeah, all those freeloaders- they will definitely switch to…whatever.

  • KMB877

    As MetroPCS. They were forced to keep the brand, but they forced customers to get GSM phones (instead of CDMA), new plans, etc. Indentical scenario for Assurance Wireless.

    • Hurlamania

      You may have to get a new phone but usually they’re free but most phones today and phones made in the last few years are compatible with both Sprint and T-Mobile so 99% of the people shouldn’t need a new phone my S9 will cover all Sprint bands and most phone swaps are done as customer upgrades that’s why it took a few years to switch everyone over they didn’t force anyone to buy a phone

      • marque2

        I believe in the end they gave all the hold-outs the option of getting either a free low mid range phone or a credit towards a new more expensive phone.

        • KMB877

          Yes, I remember exactly same thing.

      • KMB877

        The phones “made in the last few years” as you’ve stated, doesn’t have at least bands 66 and 71 for sure.
        Also, Assurance Wireless, offers a free “Android phone” (their sentence) only for new subscribers, they are no “swaps as customer upgrades” as you stated.

        • Hurlamania

          It depends on what phone you have also it may not offer swap now but they need to offer swap just like they did with MetroPCS we’re not talking about now we’re talkin about post-merger even if they don’t have those bands they still would have Sprint bands combined with the current T-Mobile bands that your phone covers.

        • SirStephenH

          Band 66 isn’t needed by most people. Band 66 is band 4 with a couple of blocks of spectrum tacked on and in most of the nation T-Mobile doesn’t own any of the extra blocks. Right now a T-Mobile band 66 capable phone will connect to band 66 anywhere there’s band 4, even if T-Mobile doesn’t own the extended spectrum BUT phones that support band 4 but not 66 can still connect with band 4. In most areas a band 66 phone will have access to exactly the same spectrum that a band 4 phone does.

          Band 71 only began being available on phones a year ago so most currently owned T-Mobile phones don’t even have band 71.

        • riverhorse

          to say nothing of so many areas don’t have that band on yet. I’m even rethinking having to have the band, as on the road usually can’t get it anyway.

        • marque2

          Most tmobile pbones don’t have band 71 after a year and a half of selling such phones? I find that dubious. You say a lot of interesting stuff that I think you would have a hard time backing up.

        • SirStephenH

          Not all of the phones sold within the past year had band 71 support and most that did were towards the higher end, pricing them outside of many users’ budgets. Combine that with the fact that almost all cellular users are on 2-3 year upgrade cycle and you’ll find that it’s impossible for most phones to have band 71 support only a year in.

        • marque2

          In the last year almost all of tmobile phones except for their own brand had 71 included. First band 71 was the V30 in August 2017. I would suspect at least half the phones have the capability but very few phones are actually using it based on the slow roll out. Maybe next year at this time we will see a moderate amount of 600 Mhz outside of Montana

        • KMB877

          The issue was cheap phones sold by Assurance Wireless (a MVNO provider using Sprint’s network) and their uncertain full compatibility with T-mobile’s network, and not devices sold by T-mob.

      • marque2

        Depends on the brand. Some brands sell Tmobile only phones (LG) because they can optimize the antennas. Phones like Motorola work with everybody but the reception isn’t as good – could also be because they are cheaper so not as well designed. Samsung and Apple tend to sell a Spint/Verizon model and an AT&T/Tmobile model.

    • Hurlamania

      Can you show where they were forced to keep the brand I believe they kept the brand because it was a popular brand across the country and if you haven’t noticed they’ve changed it to Metro by T-Mobile no one can force them to keep a brand

      • KMB877

        I’ll look later this evening.
        However, was a condition requested by DOJ if I remember correctly. They asked to keep MetroPCS brand for at least 5 years. The merger went through spring/summer 2013, and voila, T-mob just changed Metro by T-mobile.

    • SirStephenH

      T-Mobile was not forced to keep the brand, it chose to keep the brand because it was a popular and we’ll we’ll brand.

      So what if customers were forced to swap out CDMA phones? CDMA is a terrible technology compared to GSM, CDMA phones also support GSM so not all weren’t needed to switch, T-Mobile didn’t switch off CDMA until two years after the merger by which time most people upgraded their phones because they were old, T-Mobile offered free or discounted phones to the stragglers, and you can’t really expect a carrier to use two competing technologies forever.

      • Bklynman

        One did,the mess of Sprint is the result. LoL.

  • Fan_Posting

    Kudos to Tmobile – At times, life happens to All of us, If not a family member, friend, stranger, or colleagues.

    So many Kudos to T-mobile for their continued efforts of making a difference in the community, whether it is their employees (training and education), volunteers, T-mobile Tuesday, donations, families impacted by tragedies (hurricanes, tornadoes), Digital Divide (Helping Youth), Veterans discounts, Special Olympics and/or other In-Kind moments, Just Because they are the Un-carrier (T-mobile).

  • Hurlamania

    If I was them I would have offered to provide a better life line service instead of the basic Limited service that they offer now they need to offer it as a discount plan for their T-Mobile one kind of like the military plan they also need to commit to these lower prices that they stated they would have now they’re saying it’s the same or lower when they know they’re going to save 84% on data rates and they can make money by selling overlapping Spectrum or Sprint spectrum that they won’t use

    • SirStephenH

      The Lifeline program is only intended to provide basic service. T-Mobile would lose a great deal of money by discounting its high end plans so they’re in line with the discounted basic plans. Also, good luck keeping the Lifeline program around if Republicans begin to see Lifeline users walking around with high end cellular plans.

      “they can make money by selling overlapping Spectrum or Sprint spectrum that they won’t use”

      There is no such thing as “overlapping spectrum”. Only one carrier has access to each portion of licensed spectrum.
      T-Mobile would put all of Sprint’s spectrum to use as long as the regulators don’t force a sell-off in order to gain merger approval.

      • marque2

        Why the unfounded dig on Republicans?

        • marque2

          Just did some lookup. Universal phone started under Reagan. “Obamaphone” was actually re-purposed to include low end cell phones under “W” Bush. (sarc) Those Republicans sure hate the poor (end sarc).

          Obama (administration) – whose name is part of the popular vernacular for the program now, as Obamaphone, extended the program a bit to include some smart phone features in 2016 at the end of his reign.

        • Falcon89

          He added internet access to the program (a big help to some people), but he

          Republicans are always the ones who try to cut programs for the poor. Yes, Reagan and Bush did a great thing there, but overall conservative presidents (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan) have done harm.

        • SirStephenH

          It’s just a fact of the reality we live in. You have to consider the consequences of every action.

    • marque2

      Lifeline is free service for the poor. It used to provide free telephones with local access (calls within 12 miles free) and would charge outrageous prices for all other calls. Turns out a lot of people found ways of conniving the system so they could get a free phone for their vacation homes.

      There are already low tier programs for the masses – and yes some seem to overcharge, but if you search around a bit, you can get a phone with 3 gigs of data a month and a few hundred minutes of calls for some 30 bucks a month.

  • Acdc1a

    Your tax dollars pay for it, why WOULDN’T T-Mobile continue it?

    • SirStephenH

      Carriers provide the Assurance Wireless program with discounted rates that the program then provides funding for to make up the difference.

    • marque2

      I am not sure it is that profitable. You may recall about 2 years ago now that tmobile restated their number of lines because they decided the lifeline accounts shouldnt count in the total. It looked like they lost 3 million customers thst quater as I recall. I believe the other services restated their numbers at some point as well.

  • the martian ambassador

    There is HORRENDOUS fraud in the lifeline program – up to 65 percent of participants are actually ineligible or households are double-dipping or more. It should be discontinued. Just Google ‘Obamaphone fraud”

    • SirStephenH

      You do realize that the cell phone expansion was done by Bush right?

      You also need a citation for your fraud claim. No legitimate source claims 65% fraud.

    • Charmed79

      It had nothing to do with Obama, Bush started it!

    • Falcon89

      1) There’s no such thing as “Obama phones”, the program started under Reagan and expanded to cellular service under Bush 43
      2) There are significant requirements to getting a phone and a nationwide database that makes sure you don’t have two.

      I volunteer in an area with a lot of people who qualify for this service and have helped a few sign up. It’s a great service that costs the government NOTHING.