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Sprint ordered to show iPhone effect in DOJ lawsuit vs. AT&T

updated 11:30 am EST, Mon November 7, 2011

Sprint must show what iPhone does in DOJ case

AT&T claimed a minor victory after a rare weekend ruling saw Sprint required to hand over requested documents where Apple played a large role. Judge Levie claimed it was "entitled" to know what Sprint's iPhone 4S deal and other recent additions would do to its market share as part of its defense against the Department of Justice's antitrust case blocking the T-Mobile merger. Levie further chastised Sprint for those documents it had already given, noting that they were over half a year old.

Sprint had until November 21 to supply the relevant data. Another 29 points of contention remained, three of which were for data from May 2009 through April 2010 on cellphone plan pricing, and 11 more which were expansions on information that Sprint had already given in the past.

Other calls have been made for Sprint's business study of the merger, Sprint's government contracts, and its discarded cell tower expansion plans.

It's unclear what AT&T would stand to gain from learning of Sprint's iPhone performance at this stage. Apple's phones have only been available at the carrier for roughly three weeks and won't give much insight into long-term effects. Sprint's record-setting sales through the iPhone so far would also only reinforce its argument against AT&T by showing that the kind of deals AT&T would be more likely to get with a T-Mobile merger would be hurtful to smaller carriers until they ended.

Sprint has gone to great lengths to get the iPhone and made public signs that it wanted or had a deal several months in advance. Last month, it revealed that it might take a net loss until 2014 or 2015, near the end of its four-year agreement with Apple, just to keep customers on or flowing to its network.

AT&T's aim in defending against the DOJ case has been to prove that the market would remain competitive even after it took out the fourth-largest national carrier and the only other major GSM carrier in the country. Sprint has been gaining subscribers, but at a considerably slower rate than AT&T and while it continues to lose hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter. [via Bloomberg]

by MacNN Staff



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