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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Department of Justice has approved T-Mobile's deal to acquire Sprint, requiring the companies to divest some assets that Dish Networks can use to build a new fourth national U.S. wireless network.

Why it matters: T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that a combination of their resources will help them compete with market leaders Verizon and AT&T. Opponents of the deal argued that it will reduce competition.

The Justice Department and five states reached the settlement with Sprint and T-Mobile, which calls on the companies to:

  • Sell Sprint's prepaid brands (Boost, Virgin and Sprint Prepaid) to Dish Network.
  • Make available at least 20,000 cell sites to Dish
  • Divest some spectrum in the 800MHz range to Dish
  • Provide Dish with "robust access" to the T-Mobile network for at least 7 years while Dish builds out its 5G network
  • engage in "good faith" negotiations about leasing some of Dish's existing 600MHz spectrum

Yes, but: Dish already has been sitting on a bunch of spectrum that it has yet to use and many wireless industry experts doubt its ability to emerge as a serious fourth player in the market.

What they're saying:

  • Assistant Attorney General Makin Delrahim said that the merger "would be anti-competitive” if not for the remedies the agency includes in its settlement.
  • Former FCC official Gigi Sohn: "The state AGs who sued to block the merger shouldn’t be fooled by this weak attempt to maintain competition in the mobile wireless market.... A new mobile wireless entrant that starts with zero postpaid subscribers and that must rely on its much bigger rival, the new T-Mobile, just to operate is not a competitor. It's a mobile Frankenstein."
  • T-Mobile CEO John Legere noted in a statement that the Dish deal won't change "previously announced target synergies, profitability and long-term cash generation" projections.
  • Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said the deal will help fulfill two decades of work and more than $21 billion in spectrum investments. Dish also notes in a press release that the deal requires it to "use its spectrum to deploy a nationwide 5G broadband network covering at least 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 14, 2023" or else "make voluntary contributions to the U.S. Treasury of up to $2.2 billion.”

What's next: A court will have to approve the deal, and 10 other states have separately sued to block it. Those states have asked the court for more time in the event of a DoJ settlement that changed the terms of the deal, as is now the case.

  • The FCC also needs to give the agreement formal approval, but Chairman Ajit Pai had signaled his support even before the Dish deal and says he will now circulate a draft order approving the transaction.

Go deeper

Pew: Over 80% of Asian adults say violence against them is increasing

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 80% of Asian adults say that violence against them is increasing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: The survey, conducted April 5-11, comes after the recent shootings in Atlanta in which eight people, including six Asian women were killed, as well as a yearlong spike in hate incidents against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Danger lurks in the Democrats' police talk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Exclusive: Harris meets Guatemalan president Monday, travels in June

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet virtually Monday with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss solutions to the surge of migration, and she'll visit the region in June, a senior White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: The administration is taking a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem and also hopes to announce details about its plan for investing aid in Central America on Monday — although a final dollar amount has yet to be decided.