AT&T asks to have T-Mobile USA case withdrawn, FCC restarts Qualcomm ‘clock’

DoJ seal

AT&T has asked the judge overseeing the Department of Justice case against its plan to acquire T-Mobile USA to “stay any further court proceedings until Jan. 18, 2012, to allow the two companies time to evaluate all options.”

“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,” the carrier said. “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.”

AT&T claims the Justice Department has joined in asking for the case to be withdrawn, though there has been no word from the government.

The postponement puts in doubt the deal’s ability to hit a September completion date set in the original that if not hit would allow either party to withdraw from the deal and trigger an exit clause that would see AT&T pay Deutsche Telekom $3 billion, fork over a significant chunk of 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum and provide T-Mobile USA with a nationwide data roaming agreement.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle reportedly said she was concerned that AT&T had removed the deal from the FCC, noting that AT&T could then submit an altered proposal from what was currently in front of the courts. The court has a hearing on the matter scheduled for Dec. 15.

AT&T has already had the deal removed from in front of the Federal Communications Commission, which released a sharply worded report citing why it did not think the deal should be approved.

In a separate announcement, the FCC said late last week that it had restarted the 180-day “clock” for reviewing AT&T’s proposed acquisition of 700 MHz spectrum licenses from Qualcomm. The FCC originally stopped the clock on the review in Aug. 8 to coordinate its efforts between AT&T’s attempt to acquire T-Mobile USA and the Qualcomm deal. Since that deal has now been removed from the FCC docket, the government agency has moved back to the Qualcomm transaction.

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