As the CEO of TracFone Wireless, Inc., the leader in prepaid wireless services in the United States, I take pride in the work we do every day to provide coverage and access for everyone, including our low-income and cost-conscious customers. / benefit that TracFone provides them. That is why I am urging the California Public Utilities Commission to move as quickly as possible in approving this important transaction that will benefit millions of consumers across the state and nation.
Last year Verizon agreed to buy our company. The transaction represents a unique opportunity for TracFone to grow even stronger, for the benefit of our current 20 million subscribers, including those who participate in the federal Lifeline program through our SafeLink brand; the 138,000 TracFone subscribers who participate in the California LifeLine program and all the consumers who value the control afforded by a no-contract prepaid plan.
At a time when digital access is more important than ever, we are eager to finalize the transaction to better serve our customers and the communities in which we operate. The Commission has had ample time to study the transaction and has to make a decision before it is too late.
As part of Verizon, we will be able to take advantage of the market-leading wireless wireless network in a way that would be impossible for us as a separate company. Not all the hard work or ingenuity on the part of our employees can change the competitive reality of the moment: TracFone is at a significant disadvantage compared to its main competitors, Cricket and Metro, because unlike TracFone, Cricket and Metro benefit from be affiliated with large network operators.
We will be able to turn dramatically low network costs into more aggressive offers and better value for consumers, bring innovative offers to market faster, and respond more agilely to our competition. This will benefit current TracFone customers, no doubt, but a stronger TracFone will also unleash more competition from Cricket, Metro and others for the benefit of all prepaid wireless consumers.
When we announced the transaction with Verizon, we heard concerns about Lifeline. Of course we listen! With the participation and perspective of public interest groups, including the Public Knowledge and Communications Workers of America, Verizon made commitments to the Lifeline program and low-income consumers. These commitments to continue and promote the Lifeline program reaffirm what Verizon has explained as the ultimate purpose of this agreement: to better serve current and future TracFone and Lifeline customers, in order to continue our mission of providing coverage and access for all.
In fact, without Verizon’s backing, TracFone’s ability to continue to offer free service on the Lifeline program, a concept originally pioneered by us, would be at risk. As a pure reseller of wireless services, raising the minimum service standards for Lifeline would likely force us to consider Lifeline customers paying for a portion of their service or to abandon the program entirely, simply for financial reasons for not owning our own network.
TracFone is an innovator that has long appealed to cost / benefit conscious consumers. We were the first to sell mobile services in major supermarket chains, reaching consumers often ignored by other mobile service providers. Twelve years ago we asked the federal government to expand the Lifeline program, which provides low-cost or no-cost phone service to qualified low-income consumers, to include innovative providers like TracFone that don’t have a network, but instead “resell” phone service. service we buy from other providers.
This strategy has been instrumental in helping to bridge the digital divide, by providing mobile access to millions of Americans who would have had no other form of connectivity. The potential partnership with Verizon will strengthen this innovative strategy. Verizon will bring investment and infrastructure that we could not access on our own, including the availability of 5G, international roaming, increased points of sale and access to the latest technology and devices.
TracFone has always been dedicated to keeping Americans connected, especially those in greatest need. I ask the Commission to quickly and finally approve this transaction so that we can work to provide consumers with the latest technologies and world-class offerings.
Eduardo Díaz Corona is the CEO of TracFone