Light Reading

LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe

Sarah Thomas
11/2/2011
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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

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percosan
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percosan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:53 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe
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"We want to be the dumbest wireless broadband pipe. No intelligence in our network. None. Zero."

If this is their guiding principle when designing the network it will be worth Zero. In order for the network to behave *close* to advertised there needs to be a significant amount of intelligence built in. Especially when working with a finite amount of spectrum.

Now if he said that they "planned to build the smartest pipe ever designed and treat all traffic equally" this would be a meaningful declaration.


&nbsp;


-p

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:53 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


There was some predictable hallway snickering over Ahuja saying LightSquared wants to be "the dumbest pipe out there" -- mainly circling around the idea of whether or not LightSquared's business plan of being dumb was smart.


"If they're not going to add the intelligence, then who is?" asked one anonymous observer. The question is valid, since any company purchasing service from LightSquared will then have to bring its own network smarts to the table -- thereby decreasing potential profits.


I'd be interested in seeing or hearing about any math that shows how a third party could bring a device or service to market at a price below current cellular offerings -- and if so how that would be profitable.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:53 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


There was some predictable hallway snickering over Ahuja saying LightSquared wants to be "the dumbest pipe out there" -- mainly circling around the idea of whether or not LightSquared's business plan of being dumb was smart.


"If they're not going to add the intelligence, then who is?" asked one anonymous observer. The question is valid, since any company purchasing service from LightSquared will then have to bring its own network smarts to the table -- thereby decreasing potential profits.


I'd be interested in seeing or hearing about any math that shows how a third party could bring a device or service to market at a price below current cellular offerings -- and if so how that would be profitable.

joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:52 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


From speaking to their CMO recently it seems they're going to try for more expensive devices and cheaper pay-as-you-go plans. Let's not forget there isn't even a whiff of a network up yet anyway.

VoiceOnTelecom
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VoiceOnTelecom,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:50 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


Yes, how much network and telecom business intelligence does Best Buy have? &nbsp;Or is that fairly easy to come buy if they have simple objectives?


This is the untold "dumb pipe" story, really, isn't it? &nbsp;What will the third-parties do with it? &nbsp;Regulate? &nbsp;Impose their own caps?


Is anything really going to change?


http://thevoiceontelecom.blogs...

SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 4:49:44 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


Ah good catch! I'll delete.&nbsp;

jcadler
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jcadler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:49:44 PM
re: LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe


Lightsquared's simple, pipe only offering could be a BETTER business model. &nbsp;Consider Southwest Airlines-- something that got commoditized as an industry matured, which offered the peanuts fares and low priced flights. &nbsp;Why were they lower cost? &nbsp;One plane model, no meals, no frills, no reserved seats, which added up to better profit margins.

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