• On November 2, 2011, District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle denied, in part, the AT&T/T-Mobile motions to dismiss the claims lodged by Sprint Nextel and Cellular South to enjoin their proposed merger. Judge Huvelle held that Sprint and Cellular South have stated valid claims of antitrust harm in the mobile handset product market. She also held that Cellular South may proceed on its claim that the merger would substantially impact the market for GSM (Global System for Mobile) roaming services, but she will not allow Sprint to pursue its own claims regarding the roaming market. Judge Huvelle dismissed other claims made by Sprint Nextel and Cellular South, including claims that the merger would result in higher retail wireless rates, stating “Harm to consumers by way of increased prices is the type of injury the antitrust laws were designed to prevent, but it is not an injury-in-fact that competitors suffer.” Judge Huvelle also dismissed claims regarding the potential impact on wireless spectrum availability, network development, and backhaul service. The full opinion is available here. Sprint Nextel Corp. v. AT&T Inc., No. 1:11-cv-1600 (D.D.C.); Cellular South Inc. v. AT&T Inc., No. 1:11-cv-1690 (D.D.C.).
  • On November 3, 2011, the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a public notice seeking “information and insights on competition across the mobile wireless ecosystem[.]”  The public notice seeks data and information on industry structure, firm conduct, market performance, and consumer behavior with respect to mobile wireless services, as well as on input and downstream segments, intermodal competition, urban-rural comparisons, and international comparisons. Initial comments are due December 5, 2011, and Reply Comments are due December 20, 2011. The full public notice is available here.
  • On November 4, 2011, the House Communications Subcommittee held a hearing on HR 3035, the Mobile Information Call Act of 2011. The proposed legislation is aimed at modifying the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was enacted in 1991. According to a Subcommittee release, the TCPA “limited the ability of telemarketers to make unwanted solicitations to consumers. It also placed additional restrictions on calls to wireless phones because consumers at the time paid high per-minute rates for even receiving calls.” The hearing was intended to “explore concerns that the restrictions went too far and are inadvertently preventing Americans who rely on wireless phones from receiving useful information, such as alerting consumers of harmful activity on their bank accounts, data breaches, and other pertinent data affecting them directly.” A background memo, including a discussion of HR 3035, is available here. The text of HR 3035 is available here.