Sprint, iPCS headed to trial over WiMAX ruling

Sprint Nextel and iPCS appear headed for trial later this spring after an Illinois court ruled last week that a 2006 ruling on whether Sprint's acquisition of Nextel violated its exclusivity agreement with iPCS also applied to Sprint's WiMAX operations.

"Sprint and those acting in concert with Sprint may not compete against iPCS in iPCS's exclusive service areas," Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Pantle said in her ruling.

Schaumburg, Ill.-based iPCS has claimed that it holds exclusive rights to market Sprint products in certain areas in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska, along with bordering parts of Indiana and Missouri. At a trial set for March 30, the court will be deciding whether Sprint actually has control over the new Clearwire Corp., which was formed late last year following a merger between Clearwire and Sprint's WiMAX business, as well as if exclusivity agreements apply if Sprint acts through a related party.

Sprint has indicated it will act as an MVNO to sell Clearwire's WiMAX service under the brand "Sprint 4G." This ruling will not be enforced until another Cook County Circuit judge, the one that made the original 2006 ruling, rules on a claim by Sprint to dismiss that ruling based on new evidence.     

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