Bloomberg News

AT&T, U.S. Offer Plan for Confidential Data in T-Mobile Case

September 15, 2011

(Updates with excerpt from filing in fourth paragraph.)

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. and the U.S. Justice Department agreed on a plan for handling confidential data in the government’s antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the company’s purchase of wireless carrier T-Mobile USA Inc.

A filing by the department today in federal court in Washington sets definitions for what will be deemed confidential and how that information will be disclosed in the case. AT&T didn’t oppose the department’s proposed order, the government said.

The two sides haven’t addressed the issue of how much access AT&T’s in-house lawyers will have to confidential materials submitted by “non-parties” in the case, according to the filing. The non-parties should have a chance to be heard in court regarding how their confidential information will be handled, the department said.

“Defendants wish to designate up to 10 (total) in-house lawyers to have access to confidential information,” the department said in the filing.

Mike Balmoris, an AT&T spokesman in Washington, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message and an e-mail message seeking comment on the filing.

The Justice Department sued Dallas-based AT&T and Bonn- based Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies, which would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, would “substantially” reduce competition.

AT&T, in a filing last week, said the T-Mobile deal is good for mobile-phone customers because it would lead to better service, fewer dropped calls and lower prices for consumers.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has set a hearing for Sept. 21 and told the parties to be prepared to discuss settlement options.

The case is U.S. v. AT&T Inc., 11-cv-01560, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

--Editors: Fred Strasser, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in federal court in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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