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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Wall Street expects a frenzy of telecom deals after the FCC's ban on merger talks lifts this evening, with analysts banking on discussions between Sprint and T-Mobile to pick up again.

Why the floodgates are opening: Telecom companies weren't allowed to enter M&A discussions during the FCC's spectrum auction, which recently ended. "There's a huge pent up energy because it's been over a year since people can have these conversations," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in the company's earnings call this week. And the Trump Administration is seen as being more friendly to industry consolidation than Obama's antitrust enforcers had been.

Here are a few possible tie-ups analysts are watching:

  • T-Mobile + Sprint: Combining T-Mobile and Sprint would create a stronger competitor to wireless giants AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile comes to the table with loads of spectrum it purchased in the FCC's auction. The Obama administration scuttled an earlier merger attempt, citing competitive concerns about going from 4 national wireless carriers to 3.
  • Verizon + Charter: Verizon could benefit from Charter's extensive network of in-the-ground broadband. That would let it expand its fixed broadband business and to link its wireless customers up with wifi hotspots to lessen the load on its cellular network.
  • Dish + Verizon: Dish brings to the table a massive amount of spectrum from previous auctions and an entryway into the content business through its Sling TV product.

Wildcards: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hasn't been faced with a major deal to review yet, thanks to AT&T avoiding an FCC vetting of its mammoth purchase of Time Warner. But he's generally skeptical of aggressive merger conditions he views as pushing unrelated policies. And Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division has yet to have a confirmation hearing following yesterday's delay over a paperwork snag.

Note: Comcast's NBC is an investor in Axios and NBC's Andy Lack is a member of the Axios board.

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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