Judge Grants Service Extension in Sprint WIMAX Suit


A judge in Massachusetts has granted a joint motion filed by several non-profit organizations to keep Sprint’s WIMAX network on through March. The move is the latest in a contentious lawsuit filed by government sponsored non-profits Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen. The motion will ensure that internet access is available to 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools, and 61 libraries across the country.

The motion was made by six nonprofit organizations who provide broadband access to more than 300,000 Americans and Sprint Spectrum LP, though the telecommunications company remains a defendant in ongoing legal action with the nonprofits.

As CivSource has previously reported, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen filed suit against Sprint over the planned shutdown of its WIMAX network. Sprint acquired the network when it bought CLEAR which provided WIMAX data-only internet access through its Clearwire service. The two non-profits signed a 30-year lease with CLEAR for service over the WIMAX network. Sprint offered to migrate users over to its LTE network, at an increased cost. The network is also subject to data capping, unlike the current WIMAX service. Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen have argued that the proposed migration terms do not meet the requirements in the existing lease.

A preliminary injunction required Sprint to keep WIMAX operating in 80 cities through February 2, 2016. The modifications to the injunction create a schedule for a phased WIMAX shutdown with 16 cities shutting down by February 2nd, 39 cities by February 29th, and the remaining 25 cities by March 31st.

The preliminary injunction and the modifications made to it do not affect the lawsuit the nonprofits filed on October 14, 2015, which is ongoing. The entities say they plan to keep fighting for the Sprint to honor the terms of the original agreement made with CLEAR.

Sprint argued when the preliminary injunction was issued that Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen should tender a $65 million bond in order to cover the cost of remaining on the WIMAX network during the 90-day injunction period. That motion was rejected by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, who is overseeing the case. Sprint also sought to overturn the preliminary injunction and lost.