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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile dangled carrots before consumers and legislators on Thursday, promising cut-rate plans along with free 5G service to first responders as well as home broadband for 10 million U.S. families.

The catch: The promises all depend upon a successful close of the company's pending deal to buy Sprint.

The big picture: The Department of Justice approved the deal in July after T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell certain assets to Dish Network and help that company create a new fourth national carrier.

  • Just this week, the FCC gave its formal approval for the transaction.
  • However, a number of states have sued to block the deal, and a federal judge has to approve the DOJ decision as well.

Details: Here's what T-Mobile is offering:

  • A 10-year commitment to provide free unlimited 5G access to every state and local police, fire and EMS agency in the U.S.
  • A program to offer free service, free hotspots and discounted WiFi devices to 10 million households over 5 years, an effort to close the so-called "homework gap" among homes that don't have internet access.
  • A $15-per-month prepaid plan, which T-Mobile says is half the price of its lowest current option.

Between the lines: T-Mobile has held a number of similar "Uncarrier" events (named for the company's branding) in the past, where it has offered customers additional perks.

  • While the past "Uncarrier" moves were aimed at luring customers from AT&T and Verizon, this one appeared aimed at the regulators and legislators who are weighing the merger.
  • Consumers have no say in the merger's approval, although T-Mobile would certainly like to see them weigh in with regulators and legislators.
  • It's almost as if the company were proposing a quid pro quo: Give us the deal, and we'll give everyone these goodies!

What they're saying:

  • T-Mobile CEO John Legere: "We have definitively put a stake in the ground around the kind of company the supercharged Un-carrier will be and the ways we can put this radically better 5G network to work doing GOOD for this country."
  • Rich Brome, editor-in-chief of mobile news site PhoneScoop: "I give T-Mobile credit for aggressively going after specific concerns of the state AGs. But the one complaint they didn't address: There is no way Dish will be a 'serious' 4th competitor."
  • Freelance journalist Karl Bode: "T-Mobile is out here desperately making promises in the hopes of getting state AGs to back off their merger lawsuits. ... [T]hese telecom mergers than I can count, these promises will evaporate in about two years, just as pink slips arrive."

Separately: T-Mobile said it would turn on its nationwide 5G network on Dec. 6, covering 200 million Americans in more than 5,000 cities and towns.

  • (Caveat: T-Mobile is doing most of that through low-band spectrum that offers strong coverage, but not the ultra-fast speeds possible delivering 5G using high-frequency spectrum.)

Go deeper: T-Mobile-Sprint merger deal approaches next hurdles

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

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Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

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Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.