AT&T and T-Mobile discussing joint venture if merger fails

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Contrary to previous statements, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom are working on a backup plan that would take place if U.S. regulators don’t approve the $39 million sale of T-Mobile.

The “Plan B” both companies are discussing involves forming a joint venture that would pool wireless network assets, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter. A joint venture of this nature has the potential to expand AT&T’s wireless capacity much in the same way a merger with T-Mobile would.

While its unknown exactly what the terms of such a joint venture would be, some analysts are speculating that it could involve having both carriers use T-Mobile’s wireless spectrum, while T-Mobile would retain its customer base.

The news of a backup plan is the latest symptom that suggests the merger isn’t going to happen. Earlier this week, AT&T reported that it intends to pay $4 billion in the fourth quarter 2011 to Deutsche Telekom, which the company agreed to forfeit if a merger with T-Mobile failed to pass approval. Both company’s also withdrew their application from the FCC. And then yesterday, reports surfaced that AT&T was in discussions with Leap Wireless to sell off much of T-Mobile’s assets in a last-ditch effort to gain approval from the Department of Justice.

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