DOJ’s AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Trial Set for Feb 13

The U.S. Department of Justice has a date for its trial to block the proposed merger of cell service providers AT&T and T-Mobile: February 13, 2012. The DOJ plans to argue that the US$39 billion deal would be bad for consumers and competition, while AT&T claims it will be able to offer better service to customers.

DOJ, AT&T get T-Mobile merger court dateJudge sets DOJ trail to block AT&T/T-Mobile merger for Feb 13, 2012

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen S Huvelle chose to split the difference between the dates the DOJ and AT&T requested. The DOJ asked for a March trial date, while AT&T was hoping for January, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Judge also refused to join the case filed by rival cell service provider Sprint into the DOJ’s trial over concerns that it would slow the proceedings.

The U.S. DOJ filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA in August over claims that the deal would have a negative impact on the country’s wireless service market and would limit cell service competition. “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,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

AT&T responded by saying “Without this merger, AT&T will continue to experience capacity constraints, millions of customers will be deprived of faster and higher quality service, and innovation and infrastructure will be stunted.”

AT&T went on to say that blocking the T-Mobile purchase would lead to higher prices and lower quality.

100 Federal lawmakers are throwing their support behind the deal by sending letters to President Obama asking him to intervene on behalf of AT&T and T-Mobile to allow the purchase to go through. Almost all of those lawmakers have received political donations totaling $1 million from AT&T starting in 2009.

So far, President Obama has not commented on the letter campaign. AT&T has not commented on the February 13 trial date.