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Sprint Shuts Down WiMax Network Except for 2 Nonprofits

Earlier this year, Sprint announced its decision of shutting down its WiMax network so it could focus on implementing faster 4G LTE network to its consumers. A day before its scheduled shut down, however, a court order made Sprint temporary halt on this decision as it was still under a lawsuit filed by a couple of nonprofits, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen. On Thursday, Sprint was given 90 days to keep the network up until such time that the conflict may be resolved.

Despite this court ruling however, Sprint has went ahead with its schedule of shutting down the network on Friday. But in order to comply with the court order mandated by a judge in Massachusetts, they have skipped shutting down the network in the affected markets. This gives the two nonprofit groups access to the network during the temporary halt order. Keeping the network active in these markets is not an easy job for Sprint, unfortunately. By doing so, Sprint will be acquiring costs as much as $225 million.

Among the cities that are included in the court ruling are New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., Denver, Boston, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Indianapolis, Honolulu, Trenton, N.J., Syracuse, N.Y., Harrisburg, Pa, Corpus Christi, TX, New Haven, CT, and Anchorage, AL.

The two nonprofit groups sued Sprint last month after announcing its decision to shut down WiMax network. They sought help from court for an emergency injunction, noting that their contracts have been violated by Sprint as they were pushed to accept LTE service. If they conceded, their customers' speeds would be inhibited once they have surpassed the 6GB data usage cap. To date, the two groups serve a total of 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools, and 61 libraries. Most of its users come from low-income individuals who rely on the WiMax network to gain access to the internet.

For its part, Sprint has decided to shut down the WiMax network as a way of cost cutting and to improve their network. Although they will keep these networks open for the two nonprofit groups, the company hopes that they will cooperate in resolving the contract dispute during the period. With the court ruling, both parties agree that this period is a time to transition to the 4G LTE network. They all just need to find a way to cooperate and work with each other throughout this period.

As for the other Prepaid MVNO customers under Sprint, they have reported losing service. This shows to prove that Sprint has really shut down the network except for the two groups that have filed the lawsuit.

Source: Fierce Wireless


Comment Page :
  1. As a customer of a Sprint-network MVNO in a market affected by the court order, I find it disappointing that an old network is being held together on life support for a few customers versus Sprint trying to make things better for all their customers.

    If the upgrade costs are a concern, maybe a donation drive could be put together for these organizations and families so the funds associated with one-time costs could be covered faster.

    1. Jason, it's unclear if you're upset they left it on for some and not others like yourselves or if you are saying something else. I'll assume the former. The reason obviously that Sprint is discriminating is obviously due to the court order. Had customers like yourself had contractual agreements with Sprint like the non-profits are asserting then you would have fallen under this protected group of people. Since you are on an MVNO service and off contract, since these are non-contractual arrangements, then you should know and accept you have no rights to service.

      As for upgrade cost. It would be nice if some philanthropist stepped up, but in this case I believe Sprint is on the hook. Not sure what these upgrade cost would be for these non profits but it would be stupid for Sprint to fight them if what Dennis wrote is correct, that this partial shutdown will force Sprint to incur $225 million in costs. That $225 is probably less than the upgrade costs I imagine, and if so, that's a horrible business decision by Sprint. That's money flushed down the toilet. These non-profits serve around 2,500 non-profits, schools and libraries. I can't imagine uograding these places would cost more than a quarter of a billion. I'm still puzzled by the $225 million figure. Sounds like a huge cost to incur just to fight these poor bastards.

      Anyway, interesting article Dennis. Are you affected at all by this shutdown?

    2. Guy, I think you're ignoring just how hostile the American wireless telecom industry is towards the notion affordable internet access without content/speed/bandwidth restrictions

      All of the Big 4 will do whatever it takes to shove their draconian data policies down every customer's throat, at least until the FCC does its job and takes them to task for those deceptive "UNLIMITED HIGH SPEED DATA (but not really)" plans.

      Even $500 million would be money well spent in the fight against consumer-friendly contractual obligations.

      Ol' Scrooge McSprint is willing to give them 6 gigabytes and not a kilobyte more!

    3. I am unaffected by the WiMax decommissioning. I will not question the motives of others here as there are venues for debate of one's position, this comment section on this blog is not one of them.

    4. Jason, note in the article it's not consumer upgrade costs that are really at issue. They are requiring them to buy new LTE devices, but more importantly, Sprint is trying to slash usage for these groups by about 80% (30 GB average used under the Clear unlimited plans, which Sprint wants to now cap at 6 GB), apparently against the terms of their contract (which calls for the highest level of retail service, clearly not 6 GB).

      Sprint's proposed solution to their 6 GB cap was for EBS groups to purchase additional devices (from Sprint, at full retail cost) and rotate them out as each hits their 6 GB monthly limit. That increases costs for the groups, but more importantly, just plain looks unworkable for the schools and libraries they represent regardless of who foots the device bill.

  2. To the Anon at 8:20 pm -- this is America, and part of the reason why America has one of the highest standards of living in the world (when measured on GDP per capita basis) is that America encourages private companies to make money providing goods and services. If you don't like the big 4, there's plenty of other providers such as cable, DSL, satellite, etc.

    Affordable internet access is such a nebulous term: anyone can get free internet access at a public library and many for profit concerns offer free internet access as well such as: McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. I am not even going to talk about internet access at the workplace. In summary, access to the internet is ubiquitous and free.

    The wireless companies provide a service -- you as the customer DO NOT have to buy said service if it doesn't meet your needs. NO ONE is forcing you to enter into a contract with a wireless carrier.

    Today, I have access to internet at my favorite McDonalds (not all free internet access at McDonalds is created equal), and I go to Starbucks if I have to download new apps and iOS update for my Apple devices. I estimated I downloaded close to 10 GB of data at these locations for the past 30 days. That is about 10 GB of data I did not pay for with a wireless carrier.

    My point is that people in America have more FREE access to the internet than you would believe. My local McDonalds is packed with people surfing the web between 7 pm and closing time at midnight. It was a phenomenon that began when cheap android tablets flooded the market and people realized where the free bandwidth was located.

  3. My FredomPop service (a wimax only MiFi) was still showing 4G on sunday, haven't tested it since. Not in one of the affected markets, and have 3g fallback anyway ($4/mo)

    1. was not working today for me, so we were a few days late but shut down.

  4. Honolulu's been shut down. Consider that confirmed. No wimax here.

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