Verizon buys prepaid mobile provider Tracfone for $6.25 billion

Tracfone has 21 million customers and 90,000 retail locations.

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The mobile operator Tracfone isn’t exactly a household name, but it does have about 21 million customers in the US. Soon, those customers will fall under the Verizon umbrella, as Verizon just announced it is purchasing Tracfone from its owner America Movil. (Disclosure, Verizon is Engadget’s parent company.)

Tracfone has long operated as an MVNO in the US, leasing wireless spectrum from some of the biggest mobile carriers in the country, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. It also operates under a host of brands, including Straight Talk and Walmart Family Mobile, and it has a large retailer footprint of over 90,000 locations at stores like CVS, Target and Best Buy.

That said, it’s not clear how Tracfone will operate once the Verizon deal is finished. But there’s plenty of time to find out, as Verizon says it doesn’t expect the sale to be finalized until the second half of 2021.

This isn’t the only MVNO to change hands this year — as a result of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger, T-Mobile had to rid itself of Sprint’s Boost Mobile brand. Dish picked it up at the beginning of July for $1.4 billion. By comparison, Verizon is paying $3.125 billion in cash and the same amount in Verizon stock for Tracfone.