Shocker: AT&T extends expected T-Mobile deal closure

Posted by Mike Luttrell

AT&T has pushed back the date when it says it hopes the acquisition of T-Mobile will be a done deal. No duh.

In initial filings, AT&T had predicted the deal to be closed by the end of March 2012. But because it seems the company is faced with a new challenge to the deal every day, it has now changed the hopeful closure date to the end of the first half of next year.

The change of date was made official in a regulatory filing, just one of many filings AT&T has had to make to justify an all-out purchase of T-Mobile for $39 billion.

Although there are other major mobile carriers in the US, if AT&T and T-Mobile became one entity, they would dwarf over the competition and would also be the only major carrier that uses the international GSM standard. Verizon and Sprint operate on a different mobile infrastructure known as CDMA.

The concern is that the new mega-AT&T that would result from the merger would stifle competition and be illegal under antitrust laws. Sprint has filed a lawsuit to that end, as has the US Department of Justice.

When the US government is suing a company that needs approval from the US government, it's hard to win. But AT&T believes it can prevail in its lawsuits and convince everyone that merging with T-Mobile would not create a monopoly. AT&T has argued that it will actually open the field for thousands of new jobs, since it will be able to axe overseas customer support and hire local call center employees.

If the deal is ultimately ruled out, AT&T will still be contractually obligated to pay T-Mobile a monumental amount of money, a decision that was agreed upon before the deal was announced.