T-Mobile has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission investigation into Sprint’s alleged misuse of government funds.
When T-Mobile acquired Sprint in 2019, the carrier also inherited Sprint’s tangled legal web. Friday’s agreement looks to have closed the chapter on any unresolved billing issues from the investigation, which began in 2019.
“After reviewing the terms of the consent decree amendment and evaluating the facts before us, we find that the public interest would be served by adopting [it] and terminating the referenced investigation regarding T-Mobile’s compliance with the commission’s Lifeline rules regarding the receipt of Lifeline support for ineligible subscribers,” the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau said in an order.
The FCC was looking into whether Sprint – prior to merging with T-Mobile – was accepting money from the agency’s Lifeline program for subscribers who no longer qualified for the program’s assistance due to non-usage, according to Law360. The Lifeline program provides discounts on phone bills for low-income customers and the carrier is reimbursed the difference.
The $7.5 million fee comes on top of a $200 million penalty in 2020 after the FCC accused Sprint of collecting monthly subsidies from almost one million Lifeline subscribers who weren’t using the service. At the time, the FCC said the $200 million fine was the largest sum ever leveled for an investigation case.
“We have long been committed to getting reliable connectivity to those who need it. We are glad this matter is resolved,” T-Mobile said in a statement.