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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge allowed the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint to move forward in a Tuesday decision, ruling against a coalition of state attorneys general who fought against the deal.

Why it matters: The deal, announced back in April 2018, reduces the number of national carriers from four to three, but creates a much larger rival to AT&T and Verizon, and was seen as vital for Sprint, which has continued to lose market share during the deal's long approval process.

Details:

  • Shares of Sprint surged after reports of the deal, while T-Mobile's stock rose more modestly.
  • Under a settlement with the Justice Department, T-Mobile will sell off a number of prepaid assets and provide other services to Dish Network to allow it to become a national cell phone provider.
  • The companies also promised regulators they will deliver a 5G network to 97% of the U.S. within three years.

The states' lawsuit was by far the largest remaining hurdle to the T-Mobile/Sprint deal, although California's Public Utilities Commission has yet to approve the deal. The states could also appeal the ruling.

What they're saying: Company executives and federal regulators that already cleared the deal cheered the news, while deal opponents lamented the ruling, reiterating their view that the merger will result in higher prices for consumers and could kill jobs.

The big picture: The deal comes at a precarious time for antitrust regulation, with a wide push for greater scrutiny for tech companies, new theories of antitrust in the digital age, and new proposals to reorganize federal antitrust authority.

Our thought bubble: The judge's ruling might pave the way for Sprint and T-Mobile to merge while not weighing too heavily on the future of antitrust regulation. This deal was a classic horizontal merger of two companies in the same market, while many of the biggest questions now center around how much power tech companies should be allowed to amass through vertical integration.

Read the ruling.

Go deeper

20 mins ago - Health

Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.

Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.