Judge allows Sprint suit against AT&T, T-Mobile deal

Reuters

A judge on Wednesday ruled that Sprint (Overland Park, Kan., U.S.A.) and C Spire Wireless (Ridgeland, Miss., U.S.A.) can pursue part of their antitrust lawsuit against AT&T Inc's (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (Bonn, Germany).

AT&T and T-Mobile had sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle agreed to allow the competitors to pursue their injury claims about the effect the deal would have on the market for wireless devices.

The decision may complicate matters for AT&T and T-Mobile USA, who now have to simultaneously fight the government's attempt to block the deal and argue against claims by their two competitors.

The judge also agreed to allow C Spire, a small regional carrier previously known as Cellular South, to pursue injury claims about the effect the deal would have on roaming services, according to the 44-page ruling.

"Where private plaintiffs have successfully pleaded antitrust injury, the fact that they are defendants' competitors is no bar" to pursuing their claims, Huvelle wrote.

She did agree to dismiss the remaining claims alleged, including that Sprint, the third biggest U.S. wireless carrier, would be hurt in the market for wireless airwaves that are needed to serve customers and the market for network development.

Sprint had also argued that the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would hurt the market for backhaul services, links between the core network and more remote locations. Huvelle said that Sprint's theory was not sufficiently supported.

Wayne Watts, AT&T Senior Executive VP and General Counsel, said the ruling dismissed "the vast majority of the claims" from Sprint and CellSouth.

"We believe the limited, minor claims they have left are entirely without merit," he said in an emailed statement.

Sprint and C Spire said they were pleased the court allowed them to continue to fight their cases. The decision will also allow the competitors to get documents related to the case from AT&T and T-Mobile.

The strategy by AT&T's competitors is unusual because competitors opposed to such combinations often just complain publicly rather than file their own lawsuit, typically leaving that up to antitrust enforcers.  Plus, U.S. antitrust law is designed to protect consumers, rather than competitors, which means that courts would be expected to view a competitor's lawsuit skeptically.

Huvelle ordered a scheduling conference for the competitors' antitrust lawsuit for December 9.

The Justice Department in August sued to block the combination of the two wireless carriers, which would vault AT&T into the leading position in the U.S. wireless market over Verizon Wireless.

The government argued it would crimp competition, lead to higher prices and hurt innovation. That case goes to trial in February.

 (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Gary Hill)

Related Articles

Sprint sues to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger

U.S. government files to block AT&T, T-Mobile deal

ArticleTools

Featured Reports

Understanding and Capitalizing Upon Telecom APIs for Communications Enabled Applications
Big Data and Analytics software and applications will play a crucial role in making IoT a success. The data generated through sensors embedded in various things/objects will generate massive amounts of unstructured (big) data on real-time basis that holds the promise for intelligence and insights for dramatically improved decision processes.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) 2015
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) represent large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. CDNs provide solutions for efficiently and effectively managing content of all types. Solutions include core services such as aggregation, management, and distribution of content as well as a variety of value-added functionality.

Technologies Impacting and Impacted by Operational Support Systems (OSS)
There are significant changes underway in the CSP industry that are causing fundamental re-evaluations of business models, technology stacks and service offerings. This research assesses a range of relatively nascent technologies that have the potential to change the dynamic of OSS, whether via the networks they manage, or as building blocks on which to build better OSS tools.

Market Opportunity: Big Data in the Internet of Things
Big Data and Analytics software and applications will play a crucial role in making IoT a success. The data generated through sensors embedded in various things/objects will generate massive amounts of unstructured (big) data on real-time basis that holds the promise for intelligence and insights for dramatically improved decision processes.

Concise, Practical Market Reports on Big Data, IoT, CDN & More!
Access the exclusive new series of market research reports brought to you through the partnership of Mind Commerce research and TelecomEngine.com.
Browse the latest titles

 

 

Featured Events & Partners

GEN 15
Nov. 16-19, 2015

Omni Hotel, Dallas, Texas

The global gathering of networking professionals enabling the future of agile, assured and orchestrated services powered by CE 2.0, LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration), SDN and NFV.

Visit event website...
 

 

Business Wire