By Bob Skolnik
A judge in Massachusetts on Thursday issued a ruling that will keep the Brookfield Public Library's mobile WiFi hotspots working for at least another three months.
The judge ordered Sprint Corporation, which owns the broadband network that the library's mobile hotspots use, to not shut down the network for 90 days.
Sprint had planned to shut down the broadband network at midnight on Nov. 6. Sprint is in a dispute with a Rhode Island-based nonprofit called Mobile Beacon, which provides the broadband service that the library's WiFi hotspots use.
Unlike some other libraries, the Brookfield Public Library did not stop lending its mobile hotspots because of the anticipated shutdown of the network.
As of Thursday afternoon 24 of the library's 25 hotspots were checked out and the remaining one was waiting for someone who had placed a hold on it to pick it up.
"We're thrilled with the court's decision," said Kimberly Coughran, the director of the Brookfield Public Library.
Sprint had wanted to shut down the old broadband network and move customers to its newer 4G LTE network. But Sprint and Mobile Beacon have been locked in dispute over the terms of that transition. Sprint wants to end the unlimited data plan Mobile Beacon provides to libraries and other nonprofits.
"Today the courts preserved a lifeline for the communities and families we serve," said Katherine Messier, the managing director of Mobile Beacon in a press release. "We hope Sprint will now work with use to ensure the elderly, disabled, students and other vulnerable populations who rely on our service can transition to LTE quickly and avoid any disruption in service."