Wireless carrier T-Mobile this week was fined $200 million by the Federal Communications Commission for an alleged infraction by Sprint. The settlement follows an FCC investigation into Sprint for abusing a federal program that provides subsidies to low-income households.
As part of an audit by the FCC, it was discovered that Sprint was accepting monthly subsidies from the federal Lifeline program for 885,000 customers who were not part of this program. The Lifeline program receives $1.5 billion per year to help low-income households pay for their monthly mobile phone service. As part of this program, the government pays $9.26 per month in subsidies to the wireless provider. This amount is then deducted from the customer’s bill.
“I’m pleased that we were able to resolve this investigation in a manner that sends a strong message about the importance of complying with rules designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program.”FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
These infractions likely happened while Sprint was still an independent wireless carrier, but T-Mobile is left footing the bill for the multi-million-dollar fine. T-Mobile has not yet publicly commented on the FCC decision.