AT&T may sell assets to get gov’t approval for $39B deal

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To be able to push through with its planned merger with T-Mobile, wireless giant AT&T may have to give up some of its major assets and expand services in poor areas, experts said.

AT&T Wireless Inc. might be forced to sell major assets and expand its service areas in order to get the approval of the United States government for the $39-billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, experts said on Tuesday.

According to experts, the merger with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA will allow AT&T to become the biggest wireless service provider in the country.

They also said that AT&T may face a tough antitrust review, which could take as long as 18 months, before it can get an approval from the competition and communications regulators.

The merger will also give AT&T – currently the second largest wireless network provider in the U.S. – more capacity to meet the growing demand for data as the number of smartphone users continued to increase.

The deal would also allow AT&T to acquire at least 130 million subscribers or 43 percent of the entire U.S. wireless market, a figure that has concerned many regulatory officials.

Because of this, both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) could force the merging companies to give up some of their major assets – including massive airwaves or spectrum – to be able to continue with the deal.

The FCC also has the authority to require the wireless networks to expand wireless service to poor and rural areas in the U.S.

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