Sprint WiMAX Fight: Nonprofits Get More Time for LTE Migration

Wireless network

A Massachusetts court late Friday extended a preliminary injunction that keeps Sprint from shutting down mobile WiMAX network access to a number of nonprofits, schools and libraries around the nation.

Six nonprofit organizations filed the motion in order to keep the network accessible to these entities; the court said it would extend the injunction through March for a number of the impacted locations.

“This request is a positive step forward for everyone involved. We’ve made great strides in our effort to migrate our users to Sprint’s LTE network, but there’s still more work to do,” said Katherine Messier, founder and managing director of nonprofit Mobile Beacon. “This extension will enable us to ensure that the students, seniors, disabled and other vulnerable populations who rely on our service keep their broadband access. We’re not going to stop until we’ve given every last person the chance to make the switch to LTE.”{ad}

The original injunction, ordered last fall, required Sprint to keep WiMAX operating in 80 cities through Feb. 2. The modifications made by a judge on Friday create a schedule for a phased WiMAX shutdown — 16 cities shutting down by Feb. 2, 39 by Feb. 29, and the remaining 25 cities by March 31.

For just $10 per month, Mobile Beacon and fellow nonprofit Mobile Citizen have been providing unlimited broadband service to schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations across the country on Clearwire’s WiMAX network, which was acquired by Sprint a few years ago. Sprint’s original plan was to shut down the WiMAX network this past November, until a Massachusetts state court stepped in and issued the original three-month reprieve to the nonprofits.

Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen have made progress migrating their clients to LTE (about 40 percent so far), but they convinced the court they needed more time.

Sprint joined the nonprofits in making the request for more time, but the carrier still battles a lawsuit related to the shutdown, filed last fall by the North American Catholic Education Programming Foundation. Last year, Sprint shut down the network in all areas not impacted by the Massachusetts court’s decision.

Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.

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