In a mixed ruling handed down late Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle declared that Sprint and C-Spire (formerly Cellular South) could proceed with portions of their respective antitrust lawsuits against the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The portions of the suits allowed to go forward target the effects of the $39 billion transaction on the market for wireless devices or access to roaming. In one sense, the court’s order deals a blow to AT&T, which argued unsuccessfully that Sprint and C-Spire lack standing under the Clayton Act to file suit as they are competitors and not customers of AT&T and T-Mobile. There were, however, positive aspects of the ruling for AT&T as Huvelle concluded that various other claims brought by Sprint and C-Spire—including Sprint’s argument that the merger would raise prices for competitive access to backhaul facilities—failed to satisfy the standard of “plausibility” that is required for antitrust lawsuits to proceed. Rejecting AT&T’s motion to dismiss the Sprint/C-Spire complaints, Huvelle decreed in a 44-page opinion that, “where private plaintiffs have successfully pleaded antitrust injury, the fact that they are defendants’ competitors is no bar.” With respect to Sprint’s and C-Spire’s contention that the transaction would threaten their access to sought-after handsets that the carriers require to compete, Huvelle pointed to AT&T’s “monopsony power” and to previous legal precedent in declaring that “mobile wireless devices, and smart phones in particular, are Sprint’s and [C-Spire’s] first-run movies, mall locations suitable for department stores, and shelf space and promotional time, for they are necessary inputs for plaintiffs’ businesses.” Although Huvelle dismissed Sprint’s claim that the merger would impair its access to roaming services, she found plausible C-Spire’s argument that its access to roaming could be restricted and thus allowed C-Spire’s suit to proceed on that issue. Huvelle also rejected claims put forward by the plaintiffs that the merger would (1) raise Sprint’s cost of network deployment and (2) result in an “illegal concentration of market power and lead to higher retail wireless rates.” Welcoming the decision, Sprint vice president Susan Haller said, “we are pleased that the court has given us the chance to continue fighting to preserve competition.” An official of AT&T, meanwhile, stressed that the ruling dismisses the “vast majority” of Sprint’s and C-Spire’s claims as he observed: “the limited, minor claims [Sprint and C-Spire] have left are entirely without merit.”