Monday, the Department of Justice agreed to postpone the antitrust trial against AT&T while the company works with T-Mobile to determine the status of their merger agreement. The February trial date was canceled in favor of a Jan. 18 status hearing on the deal.
The move does not come as much of a surprise to those who've watched government scrutiny of the proposed acquisition steadily intensify. In fact, some see the canceled trial as an indication that the $39 billion deal between the second and fourth largest wireless providers is essentially dead in the water.
USA Today reports the federal judge overseeing the case gave the companies until Jan. 12 to "file a report describing the status of their proposed transaction, including discussion of whether they intend to proceed."
AT&T and T-Mobile retracted their request for Federal Communications Commission approval of the deal after the commission reported it would not support the acquisition. In a statement on the latest developments, the companies 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.