Mobile WiFi hotspots are again available for checkout at the Forest Park Public Library.

A judge in Massachusetts, last Thursday, issued a preliminary injunction that will keep the mobile hotspots the Forest Park Public Library lends out working for at least another three months. The judge ordered Sprint Corporation, which owns the WiMAX network that the library’s mobile hotspots use, not to shut down the network for 90 days. 

Sprint had planned to shut down its WiMAX 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 mobile hotspots use.

The library had stopped lending out its 17 mobile hotspots and all but one had been returned to the library as of Nov. 5 [Library’s mobile WiFi ‘hot spots’ go cold, News, Oct. 28]. But now the library is trying to inform patrons that the hotspots are again available to be borrowed. Only those Forest Park Public Library cardholders who have completed an Internet Safety and Privacy class are allowed to check out the mobile hotspots.

“It’s good news for the short term; hopefully something more permanent will be worked out,” said Megan Szwarek, Adult Services manager at the Forest Park Public Library. “Who knows what will happen? We’re still planning for the worst-case scenario, which is that at the end of 90 days we’ll be back where we thought we were going to be [on Nov. 6].”

Sprint wants to shut down its WiMAX 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 current unlimited data plan that Mobile Beacon provides to libraries and other nonprofits. Mobile Beacon claims that Sprint is trying to change the terms of its contract with Mobile Beacon and other nonprofits. 

“Today the courts preserved a lifeline for the communities and families we serve,” said Katherine Messier, managing director of Mobile Beacon in a press release. “We hope Sprint will now work with us 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.”