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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

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.