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T-Mobile Subsidiary Metro by T-Mobile Faces Reprimand from FCC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken action against MetroPCS Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of T-Mobile US Inc., for violating federal Lifeline program rules. The Lifeline program provides financial assistance to low-income households to help them access affordable voice, broadband, and other communication services.

According to the FCC's Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NALF), MetroPCS misrepresented its Lifeline program enrollment procedures and failed to properly verify the eligibility of customers. The company also allegedly misled customers about the availability of the program and engaged in fraudulent activities.

Misrepresentation of Enrollment Procedures and Eligibility Verification

The FCC found that MetroPCS failed to adequately inform customers about the eligibility requirements for the Lifeline program. The company's website and marketing materials provided conflicting information about who was eligible, and many customers were not made aware of the income requirements or the need to provide proof of income.

MetroPCS also failed to properly verify the eligibility of customers. The company accepted self-certifications of income without requiring supporting documentation. This led to ineligible customers receiving Lifeline benefits, which is a violation of federal rules.

Misleading Customers about Program Availability

The FCC determined that MetroPCS misled customers about the availability of the Lifeline program. The company's representatives often told customers that the program was not available in their area, even when it was. This resulted in many eligible customers not receiving the financial assistance they were entitled to.

Fraudulent Activities

The FCC's investigation also uncovered evidence of fraudulent activities by MetroPCS employees. The company's sales representatives were allegedly enrolling ineligible customers in the Lifeline program in exchange for kickbacks. This resulted in the misappropriation of Lifeline funds and deprived eligible customers of access to the program.

Financial Penalty and Corrective Actions

The FCC has proposed a penalty of $57.5 million against MetroPCS for its violations of Lifeline program rules. The company has 30 days to respond to the NALF and contest the penalty.

In addition to the financial penalty, the FCC has ordered MetroPCS to take immediate corrective actions. These actions include:

  • Revising its website and marketing materials to accurately reflect Lifeline program eligibility requirements
  • Implementing a more rigorous customer eligibility verification process
  • Providing clear and accurate information to customers about the program's availability
  • Training employees on Lifeline program rules and procedures

Impact on Low-Income Households

The FCC's action against MetroPCS is a significant step towards protecting the integrity of the Lifeline program and ensuring that low-income households have access to affordable communication services. The company's violations of the program's rules resulted in ineligible customers receiving benefits, while eligible customers were denied access to the program.

The FCC's penalty and corrective actions are intended to deter future violations and ensure that MetroPCS operates in compliance with Lifeline program requirements. By upholding the rules and regulations of the program, the FCC is helping to ensure that low-income households continue to receive the support they need to stay connected in today's digital world.

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