Judge Rejects Sprint’s Effort to Continue Internet Shutdown, Force Nonprofits to Post $65 Million Bond

(BOSTON) November 10, 2015 – Today, a Massachusetts state court rejected the Sprint Corporation’s request for a temporary suspension to the preliminary injunction it granted last week that stopped Sprint from shutting off broadband access to more than 300,000 mostly low-income Americans, including 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools and 61 libraries across the country. The court also rejected a motion Sprint filed late Friday requesting that the nonprofits that run Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen tender a $65 million bond to cover its supposed costs during the 90-day WiMax network extension.

In addition to denying Sprint’s request for a stay of the decision, Judge Janet Sanders called Sprint’s bond request “astronomical.”

In response to the decisions, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen released the following statements:

“The court heard Sprint’s argument this morning and flatly rejected it,” said Katherine Messier, managing director of Mobile Beacon. “Perhaps now Sprint will finally begin to work with us to transition our 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools and 61 libraries across the country.”

“Once again, the court has issued a call to Sprint to honor its professed commitment to closing the digital divide,” said John Schwartz, the founder and president of Mobile Citizen. “We hope Sprint will stop dragging its heels and work with us to ensure our 300,000 children, families, teachers and community members can keep their broadband access and their communications lifeline.”

In addition to requesting both a stay and a bond, Sprint is appealing the preliminary injunction it lost last week. That emergency relief orders Sprint to maintain the WiMax network in certain areas for 90 days to allow Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen time to migrate their users to Sprint’s LTE network; provide accounts as good as the highest level of retail service provided on the Sprint network; and provide devices that connect to Sprint’s LTE network.

To read the nonprofits’ court papers on today’s hearing, visit: http://www.mobilebeacon.org/2015.11.09-Opposition-to-Defs_Emergency-Motion-to-Impose-PI-Bond.pdf

Background

Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen currently provide unlimited broadband service for just $10 a month to 429 schools, 61 libraries and 1,820 nonprofit organizations across the country on Sprint’s WiMax network. Many of these organizations, in turn, provide service to students, the elderly, the disabled and other segments of the population often not able to afford Internet service at the customary prices offered by commercial providers. Sprint planned to shut down the WiMax network on Friday, Nov. 6, which would have left many of these users without alternative means of Internet access.

Sprint purchased Clearwire in 2013, but has failed to honor its contractual obligations under the various lease agreements, making it impossible for Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon to migrate their users over to Sprint’s LTE network prior to the November 6 deadline.

Last month, the nonprofit entities filed a lawsuit charging Sprint with failure to uphold its contractual obligations to provide the required levels of Internet service and support functionality to serve Mobile Citizen’s and Mobile Beacon’s community.

The nonprofit entities that created Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon are among the largest Educational Broadband Service (EBS) providers in the United States. EBS refers to spectrum the Federal Communications Commission reserved to serve the public interest by providing wireless broadband services in support of education. The nonprofits that make up Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon leased a portion of their spectrum to Clearwire for 30 years in 2006 in exchange for the ability to provide unlimited, high-speed broadband service to schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations across the United States.

About Mobile Citizen
Mobile Citizen offers mobile broadband service exclusively to nonprofits and schools at remarkably low cost. For more information, visit mobilecitizen.org. Mobile Citizen is funded by Voqal, a consortium of five nonprofit organizations committed to bringing technology to the education and nonprofit communities for over 25 years.

About Mobile Beacon
Mobile Beacon provides fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband services exclusively to schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations across the United States through an agreement with Sprint. Mobile Beacon was created by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the second largest national educational broadband service (EBS) provider in the country. We help educators and nonprofits get the Internet access they need and extend access within their communities to those who need it most. Learn more and visit Mobile Beacon at http://www.mobilebeacon.org, www.facebook.com/mobilebeacon, and www.twitter.com/mobilebeacon.

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