By Brendan Sasso - 11/03/11 12:13 AM EDT
A federal judge will allow Sprint and regional carrier C Spire Wireless to move forward with their lawsuits against the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.
Judge Ellen Huvelle threw out portions of Sprint's case on Wednesday, including its claims that the merger will substantially harm competition in the markets for wireless spectrum and backhaul, which is the physical infrastructure used to complete mobile calls. Sprint will be allowed to allege that the merger would stifle competition in the market for mobile wireless devices.
"Where private plaintiffs have successfully pleaded antitrust injury, the fact that they are defendants’ competitors is no bar," Huvelle wrote.
"We are pleased that the Court has given us the chance to continue fighting to preserve competition on behalf of consumers and the wireless industry.”
But AT&T also claimed victory in the ruling and said it was confident the court would reject the rest of Sprint's case.
“We are pleased with the ruling that dismisses the vast majority of the claims of Sprint and CellSouth [C Spire's former name]. We believe the limited, minor claims they have left are entirely without merit,” Wayne Watts, AT&T's general counsel, said.
The Justice Department has also sued to block the merger on antitrust grounds. That case is set to go to trial in February.