LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe
SAN FRANCISCO -- Open Mobile Summit 2011 -- Wholesale satellite and terrestrial Long Term Evolution (LTE) provider LightSquared 's goal is to build the dumbest of all wireless pipes possible in hopes that its growing list of partners will bring the creativity, CEO Sanjiv Ahuja told Open Mobile Summit attendees Wednesday.
"LightSquared is building the ultimate dumb pipe," he said in his keynote address. "We want to be the dumbest wireless broadband pipe. No intelligence in our network. None. Zero."
Unlike vertically integrated wireless operators focused on the high end, Ajuha said LightSquared was formed to make wireless broadband a pure utility, bringing it to 100 million people in the U.S. before the end of 2012. Inherent in that wholesale structure is an open network. The company has already signed up nearly 20 wholesale partners and vows to have 100 of all sizes in total. (See LightSquared Anticipates Close to 100 Customers, LightSquared Adds YourTel to Wholesale Roster and LightSquared Inks LTE Deal with Vox.)
"You aren't looking for your carrier to provide intelligence; you want the device manufacturer to have connectivity embedded," Ajuha continued. LightSquared's first smartphone maker to do this will be Sharp Electronics Corp. (See LightSquared: Lookin' Sharp, Sharp Talks 3-D & More, LightSquared Gets Sharp for Smartphones and LightSquared's First Device: SuperMiFi .)
In order to unleash this creativity, LightSquared has paired up with Nokia Networks to start a Silicon Valley site called the Innovation SandBox, where startups and entrepreneurs can develop hardware and software and test it on LightSquared's LTE network. The SandBox, which closely resembles the wireless operators' innovation centers, is equivalent to a Match.com for the wireless industry, Ajuha said.
"We don't have a monopoly on creativity," he said. "Creativity happens when you let people have the opportunity to connect to a totally open environment. That's what we are creating."
Just as LightSquared wants to have a hands-off role on development, Ajuha said he wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to leave any GPS issues to the engineers. When asked about LightSquared's very public run-ins with the GPS industry over interference, Ajuha said he's working through it and is confident the company's several proposed solutions will solve the problem. (See LightSquared Finds Another GPS Fix, Soybean Farmers Skeptical of LightSquared, LightSquared: We're the Good Guys, LightSquared Claims High-Precision GPS Fix and LightSquared CEO: Stop Using Us as a Pinata.)
"We think those challenges are behind us," he said. "We are working closer with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] to ensure there are no safety issues. We are very confident we'll solve that."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile