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T-Mobile said Saturday it has ended merger talks with Sprint after being unable to come to a satisfactory deal.

"The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders, T-Mobile US CEO John Legere said in a statement. “However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance."

"While we couldn't reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. "However, we have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own. We know we have significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth."

Why it matters: The No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers had been widely expected to combine in an effort to better compete against far larger AT&T and Verizon.

The two companies have been holding talks on and off for years, having scrapped an earlier deal after it became clear under President Obama that the FCC would not approve any combination of the two. Current FCC Chair Ajit Pai has been non-committal but the Trump Administration has been seen as more open to big deals generally.

A key sticking point this time appears to have been control over the combined company. SoftBank owns a majority stake in Sprint, while Deutsche Telekom has a controlling interest in T-Mobile US.

The move could pave the way for each to seek other deals, possibly a combination with a cable company or another global telecom company. And, despite Saturday's pronouncement, it's also possible the two will reignite talks at some point.

Go deeper

Cyber war scales up with new Microsoft hack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last week's revelation of a new cyberattack on thousands of small businesses and organizations, on top of last year's SolarWinds hack, shows we've entered a new era of mass-scale cyber war.

Why it matters: In a world that's dependent on interlocking digital systems, there's no escaping today's cyber conflicts. We're all potential victims even if we're not participants.

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Spaceflight contests and our future in orbit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wealthy private citizens are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who can go to space — and some of them want to bring the average person along for the ride.

Why it matters: Space is being opened up to people who wouldn't have had the prospect of flying there even five years ago, but these types of missions have far-reaching implications for who determines who gets to make use of space and for what.

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Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

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