Sprint Improperly Accepted Federal Subsidies Since 2013
Sprint is currently determining to what extent it has overestimated the number of customers that use subsidized phone and internet service for low-income individuals.
Sprint is the fourth largest wireless carrier in the U.S. The Federal Communications Commission may be working to settle with Sprint over unwarranted subsidies that were awarded to Sprint. The federal Lifeline program provides subsidies to wireless carriers so that they in turn can provide affordable phone and internet service to low-income individuals.
Sprint provides the services from the Lifeline program through its own Assurance Wireless brand. In order to receive subsidies, Sprint must account for how many individuals are actively using its Assurance Wireless brand. This means consistently checking for accounts that may have been inactive.
However, Sprint has been counting incoming texts to an account as proof that an account has been active, without looking at whether that account has made outbound calls or responded to texts. Consequently, Sprint has mistakenly counted 885,000 accounts as active.
Additionally, records show that this incorrect characterization of accounts has occurred since 2013. It is estimated that the number of federal subsidies that has been collected by Sprint for inactive accounts is in the tens of millions.