Sprint given more time to shut down offending Nextel networks

Sprint Nextel has about a year to shut down Nextel's iDEN network in 81 markets where its affiliate iPCS operates, following an Illinois Supreme Court decision that effectively forced Sprint to stop operating the iDEN network in those markets.

On Wednesday, the court blocked a motion by Sprint for the court to reconsider its decision to side with iPCS. iPCS had brought suit claiming that by operating the Nextel network in iPCS's exclusive territory, Sprint violated the conditions of its Management Agreement with the company. The court extended the timeline from 180 days to 360 days, something that iPCS was not pleased with but was willing to accept.

"We are disappointed that Sprint has been given an extra 180 days to comply with its obligations, particularly since the original order was entered in September of 2006," iPCS CEO Timothy Yager said in a statement. "Nonetheless, we look forward to Sprint's compliance with the trial court's order and are encouraged that the Illinois courts continue to share our view of the protections afforded by our agreements with Sprint."

A Sprint spokesman said the decision was not unexpected and that the carrier had been planning on how to respond for some time. The move is the latest headache for the beleaguered operator, which has been losing customers at a steady clip and is struggling to regain a solid financial position.

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