Sprint went ahead and shut down its mobile WiMAX network on Friday except in the markets around the country where it was ordered by a judge in Massachusetts to keep it running for two nonprofit groups that are locked in a contract dispute with the carrier. Meanwhile, Sprint disclosed it will incur as much as $225 million in costs related to the shutdown of Clearwire's legacy WiMAX network.
A state judge in Massachusetts delayed Sprint's plans to shut down Clearwire's legacy mobile WiMAX network in 75 cities across the country by 90 days. In doing so, the judge sided with two nonprofits that had sued the carrier, alleging that Sprint violated their contract by pushing them to accept LTE service that would have throttled their customers' speeds after 6 GB of data usage.
Sprint plans to shutter tomorrow the mobile WiMAX network it inherited when it bought Clearwire in 2013, and the carrier said only a small percentage of customers remain on the WiMAX network after a long campaign by Sprint to get customers to switch to its LTE network.
Sprint is facing a lawsuit from two nonprofit groups that have been providing mobile WiMAX Internet service to low-income students and families. The groups allege that they had been offering unlimited WiMAX service to more than 300,000 customers, and with Sprint's impending shutdown of the legacy Clearwire WiMAX network next month, are being pushed to accept LTE data service that will throttle the speeds of customers after they hit a cap of 6 GB of data, in violation of their contract with Sprint.
For the last couple of years, some have viewed Sprint as the Rodney Dangerfield of wireless. Indeed, the carrier has seen mostly negative press and perception ranging from subscriber losses to poor network execution to unfortunate technology selection, to M&A problems, and the list goes on. Add in a negative macroeconomic environment, unprecedented competition and some bad luck contributed to keeping Sprint down. Here's how I think Sprint got to its "no respect" predicament.
Towerstream expects to see growth from LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) and the Internet of Things (IoT) via 45,000 billboard locations, but small cells may be the real kicker.
As wireless operators continue consolidate networks through acquisitions, roll out 4G LTE and make way for 5G wireless, they are also shutting down legacy wireless network technologies.
Network shutdowns are a way of life in the wireless industry, as technologies evolve and advance, and one era gives way to the next. Wireless carriers have been shutting down legacy networks for more than a decade and the shuttering will continue this year.
Swedish-backed operator Tele2 and Dutch company Aerea entered into a machine-to-machine / Internet of Things partnership in the Netherlands, making Aerea the exclusive Sigfox network operator for the Netherlands.
Sprint confirmed it will shut off service on its mobile WIMAX network on or around Nov. 6, 2015, giving further clarity on its network evolution.