U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle denied a Sprint Nextel request on Monday that would have given the company access to heaps of AT&T internal documents so they could prove that the company's $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile was anti-competitive.
Huvelle dismissed the case but did not offer an immediate ruling. Huvelle who is also hearing the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit and a private antitrust suit regarding the matter released the following statement:
"You don't stand in the shoes of the consumer or the Department of Justice."In their suit filed in September Sprint argued that the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would stop their own ability to obtain the latest handsets and reach roaming agreements while gaining access to the market for backhaul and other essential services.
Sprint was asking for the same documents AT&T handed over to the Justice Department's antitrust division so they could build their own case.
In the meantime AT&T has asked Huvelle to dismiss the Sprint lawsuit although the judge has not said when that hearing for dismissal will occur. Typically anti-trust lawsuits are brought by consumers and regulatory commissions, the filing by Sprint was unusual.
If the merger moves forward AT&T would vault pass Verizon Wireless as the nation's biggest wireless carrier. If the deal fails AT&T will be forced to pay T-Mobile $6 billion in spectrum space and cash for their troubles.
In the meantime AT&T Wireless executives have said they are willing to work with the Justice Department to reach an agreement all sides could live with.
Do you think an AT&T and T-Mobile merger would be bad for the overall cellular marketplace?