Illustration of water circling the drain of a sink, along with the Dish Network logo.

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When the Department of Justice approved T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint, the DOJ's antitrust officials insisted that an unusual remedy could replace the competition lost in the merger.

Sprint will no longer exist as a separate entity if the DOJ's plan is finalized, reducing the number of major nationwide mobile carriers from four to three. But the government agency is simultaneously requiring T-Mobile and Sprint to sell some of their assets to Dish Network in what amounts to a government attempt to micromanage the mobile industry.

Dish, the government-selected replacement for Sprint, will create its own mobile service from its existing assets and spare parts the DOJ is requiring T-Mobile and Sprint to sell off. The DOJ acknowledged that T-Mobile buying Sprint "would eliminate head-to-head competition" and threaten the "lower prices and better service" created by that competition. But the department also claimed that the required divestitures will let Dish replace Sprint as a viable fourth carrier.

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