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Sprint Keeps WiMax Network Up to Comply With Court Order, Deactivates Most Users

Pre LTE, Sprint was the first to have a true 4G network thanks to its adoption of WiMax.


Sprint said late Friday that it was keeping its WiMax network running nationwide to comply with a court order; however, the carrier said it was going ahead and deactivating most devices that connect to the network.

A Massachusetts judge on Thursday issued an injunction preventing Sprint from deactivating the network — at least for certain customers — for 90 days. Sprint said those customers — schools and nonprofits that get their service from resellers Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen — can continue to access the network, while others that were still using WiMax are in the process of being disconnected from the network.

“While we’re currently maintaining WiMax service for Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen per the court’s decision, we are moving forward with the deactivation of commercial subscribers and the shutdown of their access to the WiMax network,” a Sprint representative told Re/code. Sprint had originally planned to turn off the WiMax network entirely as of Friday.

Sprint was the first to have a true 4G network thanks to its adoption of WiMax, which was ready ahead of LTE. However, LTE networks proved faster and more popular, prompting Sprint to switch gears and go for an LTE network.

The company has said for more than a year that it planned to shutter the WiMax network.

In addition to customers that got WiMax service through Sprint, some others resold service on Sprint’s WiMax network, including groups like Mobile Citizen that focused on offering Internet access to schools and nonprofits. Sprint has about 1,000 Internet service providers that are part of its school broadband program, though the company says 85 percent of those have moved to the LTE network.

Sprint isn’t saying how many people are still using the WiMax network, but said earlier this week that educational customers account for about 5 percent of those that remain.

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