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NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N) and T-Mobile USA's parent Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) have discussed forming a joint venture that would pool the wireless operators' network assets as an alternative if AT&T's proposed $39 billion plan to buy T-Mobile USA fails, according to the Wall Street Journal.
However, the story, which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter, said the talks were "not advanced" and were "a plan the companies have on the back burner."
But since the companies are facing regulatory opposition to the deal, it is a plan they are "likely to take a closer look at," the people said, according to the report.
Both companies have said they will continue to fight to win approval for the deal. The U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the deal in August and that case is expected to be heard in February.
AT&T last week said it would withdraw its application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for approval of the deal so it could first focus on the Department of Justice battle.
Representatives for AT&T and Deutsche Telekom were not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Sinead Carew and Nicola Leske; Editing by Gary Hill