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Judge clears Sprint, C Spire to sue AT&T over T-Mobile deal

updated 08:50 pm EDT, Wed November 2, 2011

ATT denied motion to dismiss Sprint lawsuit

AT&T faced a partial setback in its attempt to clear its buyout of T-Mobile after a judge rejected its attempts to dismiss Sprint's lawsuit as well as matching complaints from C Spire. Both of the smaller carriers were allowed to try and block the deal as allegedly anti-competitive. Judge Ellen Huvelle stripped out some of the claims, including Sprint's arguments that it would be gouged on infrastructure costs and have trouble getting wireless spectrum.

Sprint was greenlit to argue one of its core complaints, that it would lose out on device deals. One of C Spire's main arguments, that it would be unfairly discriminated against in roaming deals, was also allowed to go ahead. Both were allowed as a result to get certain documents from both AT&T and T-Mobile that they have claimed are vital to their cases.

The two smaller carriers were happy with the ruling in spite of losing some of their damage claims. AT&T minimized the decision, calling the remaining disputes "limited, minor" issues that would be defeated in court.

Judge Huvelle nonetheless refuted one of AT&T's primary talking points in trying to dismiss the legal action. She disagreed that being an AT&T competitor automatically disqualified the lawsuits out of conflict of interest, saying that being a rival was "no bar." Lawsuits over competition and antitrust laws are by definition intended to protect competitors from unfair behavior.

A roadmap for the lawsuit should follow a hearing on December 9.

The advancement of the lawsuit followed the same day as AT&T motioned to get Sprint's plans in the core lawsuit from the Department of Justice trying to block the $39 billion T-Mobile deal. Having both the DOJ and carrier opposition active creates a potentially tall hurdle for the deal. AT&T may have prompted the opposition after its own FCC filing revealed an estimate that it only needed $3.8 billion to reach its LTE 4G coverage targets, a discrepancy it has never explained other than to deny it exists.

by MacNN Staff



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