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Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 08:15 pm PT (11:15 pm ET)

Briefly: DOJ probe on AT&T, T-Mobile acquisition; Foxconn in Brazil; Apple Maps job

The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an in-depth investigation into AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, a new report claims. Meanwhile, more evidence has surfaced that Foxconn will soon begin producing Apple's iPhones and iPads in Brazil. Also, a new job posting from Apple indicates the company is explicitly looking for someone to revamp the Maps app for iOS.

DOJ investigation

Reuters reports that the Justice Department has deepened its probe of an AT&T and T-Mobile acquisition, according to a source familiar with the $39 billion deal.

A spokeswoman for the DOJ declined to comment, though she did note that the agency's investigation is "ongoing."

Though the DOJ has been known to approve mergers within 30 days in a process called "early termination," the size of the AT&T/T-Mobile acquisition makes a lengthier so-called "second request" more likely. The investigation is expected to last for months, and approval could be up to a year in coming.

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom announced in March that they had reached an agreement for AT&T to purchase T-Mobile USA. Within days, government officials had called for DOJ and FCC investigations to review the deal.

One FCC official told The Wall Street Journal that AT&T faced a "steep climb to say the least" on the way to receiving the FCC chairman's approval to proceed with the acquisition. Rival wireless carrier Sprint has spoken out in formal opposition of the deal and is actively contesting the merger with state regulators.

If the acquisition is approved, it would give Apple access to nearly 80 percent of the U.S. wireless contract customer market. Apple partnered with AT&T to launch the iPhone and the two companies maintained an exclusive partnership in the U.S. until Verizon began selling the iPhone in February.

Foxconn in Brazil

Luciano Almeida, the president of the Invest São Paulo state agency promoting investment and competitiveness in the region, confirmed Tuesday that Apple representatives had visited Brazil in February in preparation for the first stage of iPad, iPhone and eventually notebook production in partnership with manufacturer Foxconn, Brazil's Teletime reports (via Google Translate).

According to Almeida, the Foxconn unit in Brazil plans to produce as many as six million iPads by the time it reaches full capacity in three to four years. A new plant built by Foxconn could generate four to five thousand new jobs in the next few years. The government has already begun preparing training courses for the factory jobs.

Five or six cities are reportedly competing for the privilege of hosting Foxconn's new facilities, and Almeida dismissed Rio de Janeiro as a candidate. According to the report, Foxconn has also looked into investing in liquid crystal display factories and "the unification of Brazilian plants in a single installation" but has yet to receive approval for those projects from the company's international board.

In April, another Brazilian government official suggested that Foxconn would begin producing iPads by the end of November. Foxconn has reportedly sent a list of demands to the Brazilian government, including a request for financial support from the Brazilian National Development Bank, government help in finding minority investors and export priority shipping at São Paulo (and other unnamed) airports.

iOS Maps Application Developer

A new Apple job listing suggests that the company is looking to eliminate its reliance on Google for map images and technology, as reported by MacNN.

"Come work for the team that revolutionized the mobile technology industry as it continues to define what computing looks like in a post-PC era," the listing reads. The candidate is expected to have "real-world experience developing sophisticated user interfaces" and excellent communication skills in order to collaborate closely with" Apple's peerless human interface team to add new and innovative features."

Though Apple, for several years now, has had openings for developers interested in working on its Maps application, the most recent job listing demonstrates a more explicit effort on Apple's part to enhance the Maps app. As such, major changes could be in store for the iOS 5 version of the application, the report noted.

Apple began using its own location databases last year in iOS 3.2, while continuing to rely on Google's maps and Street View feature.

In recent years, Apple has acquired several key mapping companies, namely Placebase and Poly9, prompting further speculation that the iPhone maker will launch a more advanced Maps app.

Last week, Apple said that it is collecting anonymous traffic data to create an "improved traffic service" for iPhone users. The revelation came as a result of confusion as to whether Apple's iPhones track users' locations. Apple has stated that it does not, though it does store a "crowd-sourced database" of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers.