Court: Sprint can begin to kill WiMAX network this week

A Massachusetts state court said Sprint (NYSE: S) can finally begin shutting down its WiMAX network this week.

The court granted a joint motion to extend a preliminary injunction that had required Sprint to maintain the network in 75 cities across the country for two nonprofit groups. The move provides a timeline for a phased shutdown that allows Sprint to take the network offline in 16 cities including New York tomorrow. Sprint's WiMAX can go dark in another 39 cities on Feb. 29, and in the final 25 cities on March 31.

The two nonprofits, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen, sued Sprint last year and sought an emergency injunction, alleging that the carrier had violated their contract by pushing them to accept LTE service that would have slowed data speeds after 6 GB of monthly data usage.

Clearwire had offered unlimited data service on its WiMAX network.

The groups claimed to serve 429 schools, 61 libraries and 1,820 nonprofits that were dependent on the WiMAX service for Internet access. Those groups collectively serve more than 300,000, according to the nonprofits who brought the suit, including many low-income individuals and families.

In November, a Boston court delayed by 90 days Sprint's shuttering of its WiMAX network in the 75 markets. Sprint said at the time it would incur as much as $225 million in costs related to the delay of the WiMAX network, which it acquired with its buyout of Clearwire.

"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, Mobile Beacon's founder and managing director, said in prepared remarks. "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."

For more:
- see this press release

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