AT&T (NYSE: T) reportedly wants its deal with T-Mobile to go through so badly that it’s willing to reportedly undercut the arguments it has made to federal regulators and the public that the wireless market is competitive. The company is in the process of talking to smaller carriers about selling what it considers the most precious asset on the planet–wireless spectrum–in the hopes that the Department of Justice will allow it to buy the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S.
Bloomberg said Monday that AT&T has reached out to smaller carriers like MetroPCS and Leap Wireless to see if they would be amenable to purchasing either wireless spectrum–the need for which AT&T has said is a crucial part of its bid for T-Mobile–or customers. This, of course, is in response to the lawsuit filed by the DOJ charging that AT&T’s $39 billion bid for T-Mobile would create an anti-competitive situation.
AT&T has argued for months that the U.S. wireless market is competitive, but competitive markets don’t usually prompt leading players to consider selling two of their most prized assets to smaller competitors. After all, if the world is truly competitive, why would you want to give your competitors any kind of help?
That is, unless you’re eyeing the chance to become the nation’s largest carrier and the attractive profitable smartphones that will come along with that status. Giving a little to get a lot is not unusual in these types of situations, but it does underscore the fact that AT&T would be willing to prop up its “competitive” rivals (who are actually struggling this year) in hopes of seeing its own deal come to fruition.