A Massachusetts superior court judge has ordered Sprint to keep alive its aging wireless data WiMax network for a few months after a group of schools and community groups filed a lawsuit against the carrier to halt the shut down process temporarily. Earlier, Sprint had planned to shut down its WiMax network on this Friday.
Judge Janet Sanders ordered Sprint to halt the shut down process temporarily, by saying that Sprint as well as its Clearwire division has violated their contracts where the group of schools and community groups had almost succeeded in demonstrating the aftermath of WiMax shut down.
Internet service providers through WiMax networks for nonprofit organizations and schools ‘Mobile Citizen’ and ‘Mobile Beacon’ have praised the court’s ruling. John Schwartz, founder of Mobile Citizen, said in a statement:
“The injunction compels Sprint to honor its professed commitment to closing the digital divide. It’s unfortunate it took a court order to stop Sprint from shutting off 300,000 children, families, teachers and community members from access to the American dream. But we look forward to moving ahead positively with Sprint and ensuring that everyone in our community can keep the service they rely on to connect to the larger world around them.”
Schwartz has also said that the new ruling has forced Sprint’s WiMax networks to remain in working state in some areas for next 90 days, which ultimately help schools and nonprofits to move its users to carrier’s latest 4G LTE network.
Sprint has commented on the ruling, but hasn’t revealed its next plan – whether to continue the shutdown process of its WiMax networks in areas where these groups doesn’t use the service, or not. Sprint said in a statement:
“We plan to continue to protect our rights in this contract dispute and expect to prevail on the merits. We are reviewing the decision and evaluating our options.We hope that Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon will take this time to work cooperatively with Sprint to resolve the contract dispute.”
Sprint first introduced the WiMax network before focusing on high speed 4G LTE network, because of the feasibility, speed and popularity. The company has later announced to switch all its areas from WiMax to LTE network, and this is where the nonprofits and schools started facing problems because of the sudden shift.
Due to the shift from WiMax to LTE, Sprint consumers who had devices and hotspots with WiMax and 3G support can only access the internet through its low speed 3G networks, and those who have WiMax-only devices will not have access to the internet at all.
Meanwhile, Sprint has said that among around 1,000 third-party internet service providers that are part of its school broadband program, 85 percent have moved to the faster LTE networks already. However, the carrier hasn’t revealed the exact number of users who still rely on its WiMax network, but revealed that 5 percent of the WiMax users are educational customers.
[ Via (pdf) ]