The Department of Justice Antitrust Division is ready for litigation in its efforts to stop AT&T Inc. from acquiring T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG.
“There is a trial team that is in place and they are ready and eager to go to court,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Tuesday.
Responding to questions from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) about the Justice Department’s role in the case, Holder said that “people in the Antitrust Division are committed to seeing this through.”
Kohl, chairman of the committee’s antitrust panel, had been expressing his concern that the merger would substantially reduce competition in a market already dominated by four firms.
In August, the Justice Department sued to stop the $39 billion deal, which would make AT&T the largest firm in the wireless telephone service market in the United States.
The federal government has also expressed concerns that the deal could lead to wireless service rate hikes because T-Mobile services generally costs less than its competitors.
The current leading firm is Verizon Wireless, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc.
T-Mobile is the fourth largest firm in the market.
Sprint, the third largest provider of mobile telephone services, has also sued to stop the deal.
AT&T contends that the merger will catalyze its expansion of high-speed wireless service to more Americans.
The Justice Department case against the merger is set to go to trial on February 13.