It's for this reason that representatives of Mobile Citizen are attempting to stall the changeover. On Tuesday, the issue was brought to a Massachusetts court. But after hearing arguments from both sides, the judge refused to rule on the measure that would delay the shutdown. A ruling is expected before the cut-off deadline.
So far, Sprint maintains that the issue is merely a contract dispute, and that the company is well within its rights. Nonprofit Internet providers, however, frame the dispute as one over Internet access to low-income communities. This could even be viewed as smaller companies being pushed around by the "big kids" on the playground.
If you really dive in, you'll see that the current conflict roots back to the 1980s. Back then, the Federal Communications Commission got involved with handouts of wireless spectrum parcels that were intended to benefit the education system.
Things got messy when a parent company of Mobile Citizen agreed to lease out the spectrum it controlled to an operator that was using the WiMax system. In return, the company was promised cash payments and access to the network and mobile hotspots.
Long story, short: The two companies are duking it out. But members of the affected communities are ultimately suffering.
"We're hearing from disabled adults that rely on our service to order groceries, pay bills, and monitor their prescriptions and medical information online," says Katherine Messier, a Mobile Beacon representative. She explains that their goals are simply to have Sprint honor the terms of their contract so they can provide services to the affected communities.
Considering Sprint has just launched a national advertising campaign stating, "We believe Internet access should be a basic human right," the tiff between these companies has ironic timing.
What do you think? Is Sprint wrong for making changes to its system, when there are low-income communities at stake? Let us know in the comments below.