Yesterday wireless carrier AT&T declined settlement talks with the Justice Department (DOJ) and told a district judge it wants to proceed to trial for the agency’s antitrust lawsuit challenging the company’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.
“We’re seeking a prompt trial because we’re very interested in closing this transaction,” said AT&T attorney Mark Hansen yesterday at a court hearing in which AT&T and the DOJ were supposed to discuss settlement options.
The DOJ is seeking to block the deal between the two wireless carriers because it says the transaction would lessen competition among mobile phone service providers in the U.S. Last week seven states—California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington—joined the government’s case.
Meanwhile, AT&T is challenging the DOJ’s assertion that its acquisition of T-Mobile would result in higher prices for consumers, less product variety and poorer service.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle scheduled six weeks for the trial, which is set to begin on Feb. 13, 2012. AT&T’s transaction with T-Mobile is scheduled to close March 20, 2012.