AT&T Mulls Over T-Mobile Deal As Judge Grants Stay In DOJ Case

The decision to postpone the case until mid-January came following a request filed earlier in the day by AT&T and T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, asking for the stay. In a statement released on its web site, AT&T said the two companies had asked for time to re-evaluate the deal.

"AT&T is committed to working with Deutsche Telekom to find a solution that is in the best interests of our respective customers, shareholders and employees," AT&T said in the statement. "We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies' wireless assets."

Judge Huvelle said the two companies will have to provide the court with a status report on the merger and their plans for filing the necessary regulatory approval with the Federal Communications Commission by Jan. 12th. A hearing has been scheduled for six days later, on Jan. 18th.

AT&T stated last week in a pretrial hearing that it wanted to proceed with the trial and present its case in court . But the mobile giant -- sensing the increasing futility of getting regulatory passage for the deal as it’s currently written -- seems to have changed its prior strategy of winning a legal victory over the DOJ before trying for FCC approval.

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AT&T withdrew its application from the FCC after the agency came out in opposition to the merger. The FCC later released a damaging staff report that contradicted many of AT&T's statements about the benefits of the merger. The DOJ moved to withdraw its civil antitrust because, without an application to the FCC, it considered the merger to be inactive.

The Department of Justice first filed suit to block the merger in August on anticompetitive grounds, and since then, the deal has been facing intensifying opposition.