NEW YORK -- Talks over potential asset sales as part of AT&T's efforts to get approval of its $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA have gone cold, according to reports Sunday.

Although AT&T could still try to fight the Department of Justice in court, alternatives to a full-blown merger are looking more likely, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Those options could include AT&T taking a stake in the smaller carrier or a joint venture to share network technology, the report said.

The Justice Department said on December 9 that it would seek to stay or dismiss its lawsuit to stop the deal, saying it was effectively dead without approval from telecommunications regulators.

"Unless this merger is blocked, competition and innovation will be reduced, and consumers will suffer," said Sharis Pozen, acting head of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile moved in November to withdraw their filing with the Federal Communications Commission to focus on the antitrust battle.

Both regulators have to given their blessing to the deal.