AT&T is approaching smaller rivals such as Sprint and MetroPCS to sell spectrum and subscribers

Having recently learned that seven U.S. states joined the Department of Justice's (DOJ) effort to prevent the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, AT&T is now attempting to rescue its $39 billion deal by reaching out to smaller rivals like Sprint and MetroPCS.

AT&T announced its $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom AG in March 2011. Since then, AT&T has had trouble convincing the government that the merger would not kill competition and negatively affect consumers. On August 31, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against AT&T in an effort to terminate the deal, which it says would be anticompetitive.

Along the way, AT&T gained support from the Louisiana Public Service Commission as well as 11 state attorneys general, but also gained opposition from seven other U.S. states recently.

Now, AT&T is approaching smaller rivals in an effort to sell spectrum and subscribers, according to Bloomberg. Some of the rivals that AT&T reached out to were MetroPCS Communications, Leap Wireless International Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp., CenturyLink Inc. and Dish Network Corp.

Sprint filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T on September 6  to kill the merger, showing strong opposition to the deal that could kill competition such as itself.

AT&T is set to meet the DOJ in court on September 21. AT&T asked for an expedited hearing for the case because it will be required to pay a $6 billion penalty if the case isn't settled by September 2012.

Even if the case is settled with the DOJ, AT&T must also seek approval from the Federal Communications Commission for the merger to be complete. Otherwise, AT&T must pay Deutsche Telekom $3 billion in cash as well as wireless spectrum and roaming agreements.

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