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Sprint and T-Mobile to combine in deal that could reshape the U.S. wireless landscape

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T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere will head the merger and the company, which will be named T-Mobile. In a video announcement posted on Twitter, Legere said the new company will “create robust competition and lower prices across wireless, video and broadband” and lead the way to 5G technology.

“The new company will be able to light up a broad and deep 5G network faster than either company could separately,” a press release states. “T-Mobile deployed nationwide LTE twice as fast as Verizon and three times faster than AT&T, and the combined company is positioned to do the same in 5G with deep spectrum assets and network capacity.”

The combined enterprise value is projected to be $146 billion, of which Sprint’s total value will be about $59 billion. The two companies will merge at the equivalent of 9.75 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share, the press release states.

The merged company’s headquarters will remain in Bellevue, Washington, where T-Mobile’s headquarters is located. CNBC reported before the merger that some Sprint executives would remain in the company.

Sprint dropped a bid for T-Mobile more than three years ago after running into concerns in the Obama administration about wireless competition. The two had been poised to combine in October, but that deal was called off, too.

Sprint and its owner, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, have long been looking for a deal as the company has struggled to compete on its own.

Sprint has a lot of debt and has posted a string of annual losses. The company has cut costs and made itself more attractive to customers, BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk said, but it hasn’t invested enough in its network and doesn’t have enough airwave rights for quality service in rural areas.

Image: A Sprint store in New York
A Sprint store in New York.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

T-Mobile, meanwhile, has been on a yearslong streak of adding customers. After the government nixed AT&T’s attempt to buy the company in 2011, T-Mobile led the way in many consumer-friendly changes, such as ditching two-year contracts and bringing back unlimited data plans. Consumers are paying less for cellphone service, thanks to T-Mobile’s influence on the industry and the resultant price wars.

“T-Mobile does not need a merger with Sprint to succeed, but Sprint might need one to survive,” Piecyk wrote in a research note.

But MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said T-Mobile’s momentum is slowing, which may explain why the company and its parent, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, “have warmed to the idea of a merger sooner rather than later.”

The supersized company would have nearly as many wireless subscribers as Verizon and AT&T have now. T-Mobile and Sprint could save money by merging their networks and closing stores.

The Communications Workers of America, a union for telecommunication workers, says the merger will cost at least 20,000 U.S. jobs and reduce competition in wireless, bringing higher prices.

But the cost savings could help the combined company build infrastructure and buy rights to the airwaves needed for faster “5G” service that is expected to be up in running within the next few years.



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Beatings and intimidation but Belarus demonstrators are still full of street spirit | World News

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There is an inevitability now to Sunday evenings in Minsk.

A burst of police violence to put an end to hours of peaceful marching – to make sure those who stayed until what becomes a bitter end go home with the ring of stun grenades in their ear, the adrenaline from running from rubber bullets – if they go home at all.

This Sunday, first estimates are that more than 100 people were detained, but that number may rise.

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Stun grenades used on streets of Belarus

There is video of police breaking into apartments and beating people as they beg for mercy. In a police state there really is nowhere to hide.

No wonder the majority of people in Belarus want this regime gone.

The spirit of those on the street is at such odds with the police cruelty. Over and again, Belarusians will tell you “we are a peaceful people”.

They march in their tens of thousands – 100,000 plus in Minsk this Sunday – waving their red and white flags, mostly masked, as a second COVID-19 wave creeps up here too. But the Belarusian people have other preoccupations.

More from Alexander Lukashenko

More than 100,000 are estimated to have been on the streets
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More than 100,000 are estimated to have been on the streets
Police fired tear gas at one protester who approached their lines
Image:
Police fired tear gas at one protester who approached their lines

Today’s march was called the ‘people’s ultimatum’.

They have had three simple demands from the start: that President Alexander Lukashenko step down, for there to be fresh elections and that all political prisoners are released. Those demands have not been met.

From exile, presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has called for a general strike as of Monday, but that may not take off.

I was told repeatedly that people are scared, they have families to feed.

Police run to block a road as supporters gathered on Sunday
Image:
Police run to block a road as supporters gathered on Sunday

Strike leaders we were in touch with were hesitant to reveal their plans. The secret chats on Telegram fell silent. Intimidation works, especially for state workers.

We spent a few hours in police custody on Saturday. They were civil, for which we should count our blessings.

For many Belarusians, civility is not a feature of the detention centres. As we sat waiting, people started trickling in in dribs and drabs.

The protests against the country's authoritarian regime have become a regular fixture in the capital
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The protests against the country’s authoritarian regime have become a regular fixture in the capital
The 'people's ultimatum' march had three demands, including Mr Lukashenko's resignation
Image:
The ‘people’s ultimatum’ march had three demands, including President Lukashenko’s resignation

‘Druzhinniki?’ the girl at reception would ask, and they would nod. It is an old Soviet phenomenon where volunteers help out with policing.

The squads cannot make arrests, but they can keep watch and this regime likes to keep an eye on everyone and everything.

The first group of men were older. They looked as though they had grown up on a diet of state TV and could do with some extra cash.

More surprising perhaps were the younger cohorts, grinning with their comrades, sharing out the squad’s red armbands.

It is supposedly voluntary. If so, there are clearly still a fair few beyond the security establishment who are willing to uphold the political status quo.

The demand for change from the street is loud and insistent – the impressive turnout each and every Sunday is testament to that.

It is almost incomprehensible that a progressive, democratically minded people in the heart of Europe should have the kind of leadership their neighbours, certainly to the West, could not even imagine.

But dictatorships have deep foundations. And for now in Belarus, they’re holding.

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Gun possibly used to kill Irish journalist was hidden ‘like a souvenir’ in drug baron’s garden, say police | World News

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Spanish police say a gun potentially used to kill Irish journalist Veronica Guerin had been hidden “like a souvenir” in the garden of a drug baron’s Costa Blanca villa.

Detectives conducted a raid on the home of infamous Irish criminal John Gilligan this week and found a gun of the same make and model as the one used to murder Ms Guerin in 1996.

They say the Colt Python .357 Magnum seized from Gilligan’s home in Torrevieja, near Alicante, is very rare – although it will take “months” to determine whether it is the murder weapon.

Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996
Image:
Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996

Ms Guerin was working for the Sunday Independent when she was shot dead at a red traffic light on the Naas dual carriageway on the outskirts of Dublin 24 years ago.

The gun used in her killing was never found.

The crime led to Gilligan’s trial and acquittal for masterminding her murder and a 28-year prison sentence for importing two tonnes of cannabis resin worth £32m.

He has always denied involvement in the murder.

One well-placed Spanish source said: “On one hand, it wouldn’t make sense for Gilligan to keep the murder weapon at his home because it would incriminate him. But this gun was not being kept to use, quite the contrary.

“It had been hidden by someone who had placed the gun in a hole they dug in the ground and covered with gravel and a type of cloth you use to stop weeds coming through before more gravel was piled on top.

“Normally criminals keep their guns in places they can easily reach them like a bedside drawer but this one was being kept as if it were a souvenir by someone who didn’t want to part company with it, outside rather than inside where it could easily be found.”

John Gilligan was one of six people arrested
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Police in Spain have raided John Gilligan’s home

Another insider said the .357 Magnum is a “very large, cumbersome revolver which is not easy to hide and the sort of weapon you see very rarely”.

One highly-experienced Spanish officer specialising in fighting organised crime revealed he had only seen two guns of the type confiscated from Gilligan’s garden in the past 20 years.

“It will take months for the police involved in this case to determine whether or not the weapon was used to kill the Irish journalist,” he said.

John Gilligan was led away in handcuffs. Pic: Policia Nacional
Image:
Gilligan was led away in handcuffs. Pic: Policia Nacional

“Spanish police will already be in contact with Garda and they will obtain the projectiles recovered from Veronica Guerin’s autopsy.

“Each weapon is unique, just like a fingerprint and when you fire off a cartridge you leave micro identifications which are characteristic of a specific weapon and in ballistics differentiate one projectile from another and one weapon from another.”

Cannabis, pills, mobiles, cash and guns were seized in the raid. Pic: Policia Nacional
Image:
Cannabis, pills, mobiles, cash and guns were seized in the raid. Pic: Policia Nacional

He added the fact the gun was so rare made it “very possible” it is the murder weapon.

Well-placed sources said the raid on the drugs baron’s villa took place as he was preparing a delivery to Ireland of marijuana and prescription-only powerful sleeping pills.

Gilligan has not yet been formally charged with any crime as charges are only laid shortly before trial in Spain, but he is in custody along with five other suspects for crimes against public health, unlawful possession of firearms and membership of a criminal gang.

Former friend Brian Meehan was convicted of Ms Guerin’s murder in 1999 and remains in prison.

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Coronavirus: Republic of Ireland could begin vaccinations in early 2021, says Leo Varadkar | World News

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The Republic of Ireland could start vaccinating vulnerable people against coronavirus early next year, deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar, who is a qualified doctor, said a COVID-19 inoculation could be approved in a couple of months.

He told RTE radio: “I’m increasingly optimistic, as is government, that we will see a vaccine approved in the next couple of months and that in the first half or first quarter of next year it’ll be possible to start vaccinating those most at risk.”

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According to government figures, the Republic of Ireland had 1,025 cases and no deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

The total number of confirmed cases is 57,128, with 1,882 fatalities.

On Wednesday, the Irish Republic moved back to the highest level of lockdown, with Prime Minister Micheal Martin saying the country could celebrate Christmas “in a meaningful way” if the measures are taken seriously.

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