Sprint reassures iDEN subscribers in wake of legal battle

Sprint Netxel is trying to reassure its subscribers using the Nextel iDEN network that they will not be affected by the fact that the carrier has to been ordered to stop operating the iDEN network in territory where its affiliate iPCS has exclusivity rights.

"The message that we're trying to get out there as much as possible is that customers don't need to take any action at this time," Sprint spokesman Matt Sullivan said. "We are not shutting down the iDEN network and have no plans to shut down the iDEN network. We have a plan that we're implementing to address the court's ruling. We're committed to our customers, and we're going to make sure they're taken care of."

This echoed statements made by Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse during the company's earnings conference call last month, in which he seemed to indicate that Sprint was considering other options to the court's mandated order. "It's business as usual for our customers there, and we're taking all of the actions," Hesse said. "There are alternatives with respect to complying with what happens in the courts." Some of the options floated for Sprint include divesting the iDEN territory or possibly buying iPCS. 

In early February, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., made a final order that Sprint stop owning, operating and managing the offending portion of the Nextel network by Jan. 25, 2010. This followed a ruling in November, when the Illinois Supreme Court refused to grant Sprint's petition to appeal a ruling by the Appellate Court of Illinois issued in March 2008.

The Appellate Court had unanimously, in turn, upheld a 2006 ruling by Circuit Court in Cook County that said Sprint violated the terms of its Management Agreement with iPCS following Sprint's 2005 merger with Nextel, because Sprint had wanted to operate Nextel's iDEN network in territory where iPCS had exclusivity rights.

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