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Dish and T-Mobile reach divestiture deal, but DOJ still needs to sign off, report says

T-Mobile's merger with Sprint is inching closer to the finish line.

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DIsh and T-Mobile reportedly have reached a deal to see Dish pick up assets divested as part of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. 

Josh Miller/CNET

Dish Network may have saved T-Mobile's merger with Sprint

According to CNBC, Dish and T-Mobile have reached a deal on the assets T-Mobile would be divesting as part of its planned $26.5 billion merger with Sprint. The deal, the report notes, is pending Department of Justice approval. 

The DOJ has been looking at Dish as a potential fourth carrier in the wake of the merger, an answer to concerns that the US cellular market would be less competitive with just AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as national players. Last month, attorneys general from 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, filed or joined a multistate lawsuit to block the deal, arguing that competition will suffer if the US market shrinks from four major wireless carriers to three.

In a second report, CNBC revealed some specifics of the deal. According to the cable network, Dish would get added wireless spectrum -- the airwaves needed to broadcast cellular networks -- and Boost Mobile, plus the ability to use T-Mobile and Sprint's combined network for "about six or seven years." 

CNBC says the companies could have a formal agreement next week. 

Dish has billions of dollars' worth of its own spectrum to create a wireless network but has until March 2020 to utilize it or risk losing its license. The satellite provider has reportedly been hoping to gain an extension from the government as part of its negotiations to buy the divested assets. 

There could be a cost for buying the assets, however, beyond a sticker price. According to CNBC T-Mobile has capped any "strategic Dish investor" to a 5% investment, potentially limiting Dish's ability to partner with a major technology company like Amazon or Google to help finance the building of its own wireless network.  

T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a CNET request for comment. Dish declined to comment. 

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