The US Department of Justice (DoJ) reportedly intends to file a motion this week that will see it postpone the court proceedings relating to its challenge to AT&T Mobility’s proposed USD39 billion acquisition of rival cellco T-Mobile USA. According to Dow Jones Newswires, DoJ lawyer Joseph Wayland has indicated that legal action against the controversial merger is no longer necessary, because the companies have formally withdrawn their application for approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Wayland said that the DoJ will either ask the federal court to stay the court proceedings, or simply withdraw its case until the companies once again attempt to seek approval with the FCC. The DoJ’s comments follow those of District Court Judge Ellen S Huvelle, who questioned the logic of maintaining the current schedule, saying: ‘The landscape has changed – it has clearly changed’. However, AT&T’s lawyers urged the judge to maintain the current trial schedule, with Mark Hansen admitting: ‘We are not playing some strategic game’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in late-August the DoJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to prevent AT&T from acquiring T-Mobile from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom. At the time deputy attorney general James M Cole commented: ‘The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services … This lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of that competition’.