Court Delays AT&T Merger Hearing

The judge hearing the Justice Department's challenge of AT&T Inc's plan to buy Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA unit has postponed a status conference set for this week until early December, the court said in an order issued Monday.

Judge Ellen Huvelle, who is hearing the case, said in a brief order that she was putting off a hearing set for Wednesday until Dec. 9 ``due to the court's scheduling conflict.''

AT&T has been pressing for a quick trial to resolve the Justice Department's antitrust challenge to its $39 billion deal. The trial is scheduled to start Feb. 13.

The Federal Communications Commission, which also must approve the deal, gave it a serious blow last week as the head of the communications regulator, Chairman Julius Genachowski, sent a draft order to fellow commissioners citing FCC staff findings that the deal would significantly diminish competition and lead to large job losses.

AT&T argues the deal will accelerate its expansion of high-speed wireless service to nearly all Americans.

The case is United States v. AT&T et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 11-1560. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Gerald E. McCormick)