A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer told a U.S. District Court judge Friday that the department plans to file a motion next week to either withdraw or seek a delay in its case against the $39 billion AT&T/T-Mobile deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The lawyer, Joseph Wayland, said the move was based on the decision by the companies to withdraw the merger applications from the Federal Communications Commission. Last month, the FCC called for an administrative hearing on the matter and came out deriding the proposed deal, leading the companies to wait until the Justice Department trial plays out before reapplying for approval.
During the hearing, Judge Ellen Huvelle expressed frustration in the decision by the companies to withdraw the merger application, arguing that the dynamics of the case have changed and it may not be necessary to proceed with the trial in a speedy matter.
AT&T and T-Mobile USA couldn't immediately comment to the International Business Times on the matter.
The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in August against the two companies, and the trial is slated to begin Feb. 13.
Sprint Nextel, the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T, filed a separate lawsuit shortly after the Justice Department. Sprint and AT&T agreed earlier this week to have that case begin after the Justice Department's.
Putting off the antitrust trial could be problematic for T-Mobile, which could be looking to forge alliances with other companies. It could even lead Deutsche Telekom to reconsider its options and possibly call off the merger, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King wrote in a research note provided to the Journal.
Shares of AT&T are up 0.21 percent to 28.92 in early afternoon trading.