Are you suggesting that AT&T would retrofit existing Uverse customers with D* dishes and move all video services to satellite? Sounds doubtful.
No, but to think that is the only option is short-sighted.
Even if they don't do ANY integration between U-Verse and DirecTV, you have an immense savings by combining the install and distribution networks. Then, you eliminate the entire back office infrastructure from DirecTV like HR, finance, IT, etc.
BUT, there are plenty of short, medium, and long term options.
First, AT&T instantly has an in-house double/triple play nationwide (bundle satellite TV with LTE internet and cell phone). DirecTV gets out from under the lack of internet service. Slightly longer term, imagine every DirecTV box having an LTE modem inside that gives every single customer two-way communication to the box for VOD, PPV, etc. Even if downloads are done over the satellite.
Further out, imagine a satellite dish on every AT&T cell tower and U-Verse DSLAM. Distributing the video via satellite frees up massive amounts of bandwidth on their wireline network. If they can work out a way to directly distribute the satellite signal over their copper network instead of switching it to IP, then that is even better.
Even if you can't "merge" the U-Verse and satellite technologies, you now have options for just about any customer who comes to you: satellite dish if you have LOS and an installable location, U-Verse if you don't have LOS, live in an apartment, etc.
CNBC was talking about it earlier, and they also made a good point. AT&T had a deal to buy Dish on the table and it fell apart at the last minute. This may be a smokescreen to get Charlie to come back to the table and sell Dish. Also, if a deal is going to be done at all, putting this on the table while Comcast is trying to buy Time Warner Cable means that if one deal happens (IE: if the feds were going to let Comcast go through) both deals will have to happen.