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The fraught and fitful effort to bolster wireless broadband capacity in the U.S. continues to be…well, fraught and fitful. This week’s failure by the congressional “supercommittee” to come up with a budget deal dealt a blow to the hopes of wireless carriers and technology companies that the FCC’s proposed auction of unused TV spectrum for wireless data use would go ahead in 2012. A provision giving the FCC the authority to hold the auctions was reportedly about the only thing Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed on and was widely expected to be part of the final bill. Now that efforts to reach a final deal on a bill have collapsed those hopes are dashed, at least for now. Meanwhile, the FCC yesterday joined the Justice Department in voicing objections to AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile, dealing a crippling if not quite mortal blow to the deal. While there are probably sound reasons for opposing the merger, based on competitive concerns, the deal probably would have given a near-term boost to At&T’s build-out of its 4G network, a process that will now take more time.