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Sprint's WiMax Shutdown May Halt Service for Charities

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Oct 15, 2015, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint plans to deactivate its WiMax network on Nov. 6, but some charities say the change will eliminate internet service for some 300,000 Americans altogether. In 2006, Clearwire struck a deal with some charities to provide WiMax service via spectrum owned by the charities. The charities use the WiMax service to offer free or low-cost internet connections to schools, libraries, and other nonprofit organizations. Sprint acquired Clearwire in 2013 and problems crept up quickly. A lawsuit filed this week by two of the charities — Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen — alleges that Sprint has established roadblocks that make it infeasible for the charities to switch to Sprint's LTE network. Moreover, the charities claim Sprint has placed unreasonable monthly data limits on their accounts and is throttling speeds down to 256kbps when the limits are exceeded. When WiMax goes dark next month, the charities say they'll no longer be able to offer service at all to their own customers. Sprint confirmed that it is disputing contract terms with the charities. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent Sprint from shutting down its WiMax network, as well as an order that would compel Sprint to offer the charities LTE service at terms similar to those of their original contract with Clearwire.

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