A U.S. judge on Wednesday ruled that Sprint and C Spire Wireless can pursue part of its antitrust suit against the proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile by AT&T.
Both AT&T and T-Mobile had sought to block the suit, amid a separate U.S. Justice Department complaint against the proposed merger, but U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled that the mobile market competitors could sue for injury claims.
The 44-page ruling also allowed C Spire Wireless, previously known as Cellular South, to pursue injury claims over how the proposed acquisition of the two cellular giants would have on roaming services, Reuters reports.
Sprint had argued that the cell giant’s merging would have a lasting effect on competition in backhaul services in the United States, but this claim was “not sufficiently supported”, the judge said.
While some elements of the suit were dismissed, yesterday’s ruling allows both Sprint and C Spire to continue their suits. Sprint will not be able to seek damages over allegations that the company would be ‘deprived’ access to the most sought-after mobile devices, while C Spire had its roaming fees claim dropped.
The ruling will allow the two companies to receive documents relating to the case from AT&T and T-Mobile.
AT&T had argued that Sprint could not challenge the acquisition under antitrust law due to the cellular company being a competitor, rather than a consumer of its services. It also contended that Sprint’s claims that the merger would harm its business were “unfounded”.
The judge said that Kansas-based Sprint did not provide adequate levels of evidence for its claims that the merger would raise prices on network deployment costs.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department continues its case, after first filing in August to block the proposed merger, previously arguing that the deal would “hurt competition” and raise prices for consumers, claims for which AT&T denies.
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