LightSquared has been fighting a war of words with the GPS industry for months now, while developing several technical "fixes" aimed at assuaging governmental and military concerns about possible interference problems between its terrestrial L-Band LTE network and existing GPS receivers. (See AlcaLu Lab Gives LightSquared a Thumbs-Up for the latest on that.) The company has a deal with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) to help deploy its LTE network as part of the "Network Vision" upgrade in 2012, if and when the terrestrial service gets final approval from the FCC. None of this seems to have slowed LightSquared's ability to sign a variety of wholesale customers for its as-yet non-existent 4G network. The company's executive VP in charge of marketing, Frank Boulben, says in a statement that this shows "the magnitude of the pent-up market demand for an alternative wireless broadband solution."
The latest company to hop on the LightSquared bandwagon is FreedomPop, a new venture from Skype Ltd. co-founder Niklas Zennstrom. The startup is hoping to launch free voice and data services in the U.S. in 2012 using the LightSquared network. (See FreedomPop Will Use LightSquared's LTE.)
Why this matters LightSquared has an impressive list of potential wholesale users but has no LTE network to service them yet -- it just offers satellite connectivity at present. The LTE deal with Sprint includes conditions regarding the resolution of the GPS issues and would allow it to potentially pull out of the agreement if conditions aren't met by the end of this year. The FCC, meanwhile, has mandated that the operator must cover 100 million Americans by the end of 2012, 145 million by the end of 2013, and 250 million by the end of 2015. Given all that, it looks like 2012 could be one rollercoaster of a year for LightSquared. (See LightSquared: GPS Issues Won't Stall Launch.)
For more Read up on LightSquared's wholesale ambitions.
- LightSquared: 4G America's Dumbest Pipe
- LightSquared Anticipates Close to 100 Customers
- LightSquared Inks Deal With AirTouch
- LiTE Bites: LightSquared's 12 & AT&T in Chicago
- Sprint's $13.5B Jump to LTE With LightSquared
- LightSquared Plans LTE Launch Next Year
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile