Sprint and C Spire (formerly known as Cellular South) will get a chance to argue in federal court that the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would stifle competition.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle, who will hear the Department of Justice's case against the merger in February, ruled Wednesday that the competitors' cases could proceed, but she also dismissed a number of claims the two companies could make, limiting the case to the effects the proposed acquisition would have on the market share for mobile devices. The Judge also ruled that C Spire will be allowed to argue it would be injured as a purchaser of roaming services.
Both sides declared the ruling a victory.
AT&T was happy that Judge Huvelle limited the case that will be heard. "We are pleased with the ruling that dismisses the vast majority of the claims of Sprint and Cell South. We believe the limited, minor claims they have left are entirely without merit," said Wayne Watts, AT&T's general counsel.
Sprint, which would become the distant No. 3 behind AT&T and Verizon if the merger goes through, has been fighting tooth and nail against the merger in an advertising campaign and in the press.
"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," said Susan Haller, Sprint's vice president of litigation.
The judge will hold a scheduling conference for the Sprint and C Spire lawsuits on Dec. 9.