Update: Court Sides With Non-Profits in Sprint Suit, Grants Injunction


Last month, we started reporting on a court case before the Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts, which was brought by two non-profits against Sprint. In that case, the two non-profits – Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen, had signed a 30-year lease with Clearwire the parent company of the now defunct CLEAR internet service. The lease was to provide data-only internet service to anchor institutions and low-income subscribers. When Sprint acquired Clearwire, it also acquired the lease but moved forward with plans to shut off Clearwire’s WIMAX service, which the two non-profits were the leaseholders on prompting the suit.

Sprint for its part, claims that it offered access to its LTE network as a replacement for the WIMAX service, but both Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen claim the LTE was being throttled. According to an injunction signed today by Judge Janet Sanders – the court seems to agree. To wit:

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits. The balance of harms also favors plaintiffs. This Court’s intent is to put plaintiffs in that position that they would occupy under their existing agreements with Clearwire. It is not to impose affirmative obligations which cannot be feasibly complied with, or to require that Sprint: a) reactivate any parts of the WiMAX service which have already been shut down, or b) provide service which is better than that which ClearWire was contractually obligated to provide. A detailed Memorandum of Decision will be issued as soon as possible to explain further the Court’s reasoning.”

The injunction will effectively prohibit Sprint from ending the service Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen already use, which was to be shut off at midnight tonight. The emergency relief orders Sprint to maintain the WiMax network in certain areas for 90 days to allow Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen time to migrate their users to Sprint’s LTE network.