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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The CEOs of T-Mobile and Sprint argued on an analyst call that their just-announced merger would create jobs and boost America's position in the global race toward 5G wireless.

Why it matters: It sounds like their regulatory pitch will align with Trump administration rhetoric.

The big picture: Regulators have to decide whether they're all right with the prospect of only three major wireless providers in the United States. T-Mobile and Spring argue that the industry has undergone significant changes, as telecoms get into new industries like pay television and non-wireless providers get into the mobile space.

  • Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that this is the "merger that regulators are looking for."
  • Company officials argued that the deal could result in cheaper prices at AT&T and Verizon.
  • The CEOs have already spoke with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the agency's other commissioners.

The details:

  • Executives stressed the deal would help America outpace China and others in 5G wireless development. "The combination of the 600 megahertz [in wireless spectrum] and other assets that we have are critical building blocks of what America needs to deploy to take its rightful place," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
  • Many in D.C. worry about China outpacing America in 5G development. Earlier this year, a now-departed senior official in the National Security Council circulated a plan to nationalize a 5G network.
  • The company's project job growth in retail and customer service operations, with an emphasis on rural areas.

Regulators haven't always been comfortable with consolidation of this kind, and there will be plenty of critics this time around.

  • "This combination will not only result in less choice for consumers, it will provide greater incentive for the 3 remaining companies to act in concert," said Gigi Sohn, who served as a senior staffer for the last FCC chairman, who was pleased when Sprint dropped a potential T-Mobile merger in 2014.
  • Both the FCC and the Justice Department declined to comment.

More: Sprint, T-Mobile agree to merge to form $146 billion company

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.