Mobile World Live (MWL) brings you our top three picks of the week as T-Mobile US struck a deal to acquire parts of UScellular’s mobile assets, AST SpaceMobile and Verizon shook hands on a $100 million deal and China pledged $47.5 billion to support local chip companies.

T-Mobile US strikes $4.4B deal to buy UScellular mobile assets

What happened: T-Mobile US outlined plans to buy UScellular’s mobile assets which includes its customers, retail stores and spectrum in a $4.4 billion transaction.

Why it matters: If the deal is cleared by regulators, T-Mobile will get more than 4 million customers from USCellular as well as ownership of 30 per cent of the latter’s spectrum assets, on top of increased network coverage. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said the agreement could signal the start of more consolidation in the industry. “The writing is on the wall for the carriers and consolidation is now on the horizon and could speed up into 2025″.

AST SpaceMobile signs-up Verizon in second major US deal

What happened: AST SpaceMobile struck a deal with Verizon to provide connectivity to the operator’s customers in underserved spots in a deal that involves a $100 million financial commitment. The move comes two weeks after AST SpaceMobile signed an agreement with rival AT&T.

Why it matters: Abel Avellan, CEO at AST SpaceMobile, pitched its deals with Verizon and AT&T as a “transformational commercial milestone” to connect cellular dead zones and target “100 per cent coverage of the continental US on premium 850 MHz spectrum”. AT&T’s head of network Chris Sambar, who is set to take seat on AST SpaceMobile’s board, said the partnership “reinforces the shared commitment to providing nationwide space-based broadband direct to everyday cell phones”.

China backs independence with $47.5B chip fund

What happened: The Chinese government earmarked $47.5 billion to increase support for domestic chip companies to boost its self-reliance strategy in the semiconductor supply chain, as it wrestles with US restrictions.

Why it matters: The announcement marks the government’s third phase fund, following investments in 2019 and 2014. Securities Times reported a total of 26 state-owned and private companies hold an interest in the latest chip funding. Samuel Ramani, associate fellow at think tank Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies said “China has expanded funding on semiconductors to get an advantage in the chip war”.