Optical/IP Networks

LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

LightSquared now says that it will continue testing its Long Term Evolution (LTE) through 2011 in anticipation of customers launching initial wholesale services on the operator's network in the first half of 2012.

The Harbinger Capital Partners LP -backed venture has now changed its FAQs section to state that it is conducting "technical testing which will run through 2011" with customers "expected to launch services in the first half 2012." (See LightSquared Plans LTE Launch Next Year .)

The initial FAQ and some executive interviews -- linked on the company's press page -- appeared to suggest that the company was originally planning commercial launch in the second half of 2011.

Here's the original page:

And the updated FAQ section:

A spokeswoman from LightSquared says that, in fact, it was always the company's intention to "launch test markets" by the end of this year, with commercial services to follow in 2012. She did say, however, in an email reply to Light Reading Mobile, that the initial FAQ statement could be interpreted in different ways, hence the update to the company's website.

Speaking of testing, there are more details trickling in about LightSquared's LTE test in the Las Vegas area. There have been fears that the LightSquared terrestrial broadband signal in the L-Band could drown out GPS positioning data beamed from outer space for aircraft navigation and other applications. The Las Vegas Sun is reporting, however, that non-commercial pilots and first responders in Nevada are seeing no impact on their GPS systems so far. (See FAA Warns on LightSquared GPS Tests in Nevada.)

We'll keep you updated on this frequently evolving story when more data comes in.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:04:44 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

You know if Lightsquared did interfere with GPS would that not have been a great way to make the lives of the US and other Western military's more difficult.  GPS guided weapons would go off target.  Seems like if it is that easy to interfere then something is blatantly wrong.



joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:04:44 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

The military are actually seemingly worried about it but I think that -- if anything is at risk -- then its GPS navigation in non-commercial planes and cheap in-car GPS. Basically they can probably calibrate GPS recievers not to get flooded but NOBODY wants to pay for that.


So I reserve judgement for the moment, it's too early to say for sure what will happen yet. Could the signal get flooded out if there's a big cluster of LightSquared towers rather than just one or two for test purposes?

Jury's out, so far, but the news from the pilots so far probably makes LS feel a bit more chirpy about the whole affair.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:42 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

It's embarrassing for LightSquared to be caught out by such doublespeak. Yet I suspect this is the least of their worries. Even if they work out the GPS interference problem, there's always device support to worry about.  

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:04:38 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

Re: "Young companies usually get launch dates wrong at first."

Yes, yes they do, the difference being that most young companies don't have a waiver from the FCC that mandates that they cover 100M pops by the end of 2012.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:04:38 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

Young companies usually get launch dates wrong at first. They have lots to build, lots to do, lots to worry about and they probably have investors in their ear all day long.

So I'm glad we ran this piece because it helps us get on the right page with them and we'll know better in the future what's a delay and what's not.

TelecomEngineer 12/5/2012 | 5:03:35 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

Lightsquared's claim of a network launch in early 2012 is absolutely ludicrous as any individual who has designed, built, and launched a network will attest.  Many of the folks contributing to these ridiculous claims, are the same ones who made similarly laughable claims for the Sprint/Nextel/Clearwire/XOHM WiMax network.  Ask Clear how many actual on-air sites they have across the nation and then compare that to the number Sprint has.  Then keep in mind to have equivalent coverage, especially in-building, Clear needs at least 1.6X the # of sites as Sprint.  Last number I heard for Clear was less than 5000 sites nationwide with Sprint having around 40,000.  Why consumer groups haven’t figured out this sham, is a surprise to me.

Don’t take my word for it, take your 4G Clear phone, and a friend to drive you, lock your Clear/Sprint device into 4G only mode (many of their models now removed this feature and force you to use Sprint’s 3G network too), and attempt to surf the internet, download email, watch a movie, while your friend drives all around an area Clear claims to have “launched”.  Ideally, have a Sprint 3G device also tied into your laptop simultaneously surfing the same sites, downloading the same email, watching the same movie. 

What you will experience with 4G will be abysmal and should make you furious Sprint has been charging you a premium for “4G” service, due to the lack of sites (coverage) and forget an indoor test, as unless you have a 4G wimax site on your roof, 4G will be nearly unusable in areas where your 3G device is smoking fast. 

Sprint’s own CEO, Dan Hesse, has stated publicly, on multiple occasions (Sept 2010, Dec 2010) the decision to build and the execution thereof of the Wimax network was a complete failure.  In fact, 11 days before the last presidential election Hesse is quoted in Fierce Wireless as stating he’d like to see the next administration provide “subsidies for WiMAX deployment.”

If Sprint and Clear were to come clean and share their current 4G subscriber #’s and 4G usage, it would show clearly the continued financial losses the attempt at Wimax is costing both companies and those foolish enough to invest in them.  It will show the nation doesn’t need a 4G network with miniscule outdoor coverage and nearly absent in-building coverage. 

So if similar folks and strategies resulted in a failed Nextel merger ($35B Sprint write-off), a failed Nextel network (now with less than 10% of the subscribers it had in 2005), and a failed attempt to launch wimax, why would we trust many of those same folks who are now running and behind the scenes of the LightSquared hype machine?

You wait, my prediction, you’ll see Clear and Lightsquared merge and with a similar level of hype and empty promises of a nationwide network in 30 days, they’ll work to line the pockets of a few key execs, waste a ton of gullible investor $, while financially shifting debt around with the plan to have either Clear or Lightsquared be the sacrificial lamb to take the fall and the debt with it, essentially “laundering” the majority of the valued assets to the remaining, now nearly debt free company. 

Ralph Nader, where are you buddy?  The public is being conned by Clear/Sprint and Lightsquared is getting ready to do it again.    

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:03:33 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

As I've said before in blogs, I see no way that LightSquared can make it's 100M by the end of 2012 target deploying with its own NSN equipment. As far as I know they haven't put anything but test sites up yet and it takes years to deploy a dense network.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:03:33 PM
re: LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12

Yeah, but...

I've used a Rover Puck (a Clear product) in a NYC hotel room for a solid week (23 floors up) with no service interruption. Surfed the web at around 2 Mbit/s to 4 Mbit/s and paid $40 for the privilege. 

So the Clear network is on (somewhere) and it does work. Airports, however, were another story. I never could get a good Rover/Clear connection in a major airport. 

Anyway, you should tap the brakes on blanket statements about any network. But that Sprint 4G test does sound interesting. We might give that a try.



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