BOSTON, MA, November 5, 2015 Today, a Massachusetts state court granted a preliminary injunction and stopped the Sprint Corporation from its plan to shut off broadband access at midnight tonight to more than 300,000 mostly low-income Americans, including 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools and 61 libraries across the country. In response, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen released the following statements:
“Today, the courts preserved a lifeline for the communities and families we serve,” said Katherine Messier, managing director of Mobile Beacon. “We hope Sprint will now work with us to ensure the elderly, disabled, students and other vulnerable populations who rely on our service can transition to LTE quickly and avoid any disruption in service.”
“The injunction compels Sprint to honor its professed commitment to closing the digital divide,” said John Schwartz, the founder and president of Mobile Citizen. “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.”
The 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.
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.
Earlier this 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.