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LightSquared: 30+ Customers, No LTE Network

LightSquared says it has signed up more than 30 wholesale customers for its proposed hybrid satellite and Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, even though the company awaits Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval before it can get close to launching a rival 4G service in the U.S.

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.



— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:46:52 PM
re: LightSquared: 30+ Customers, No LTE Network

If LR gets around to doing a "Worst Names of 2011" end-of-year list, I will expect it to include FreedomPop. Sounds like a glasnost-era cover band.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:46:51 PM
re: LightSquared: 30+ Customers, No LTE Network

And Men Without Hats already stole their first hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-aTdb7Bt6Q&feature=related

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:46:50 PM
re: LightSquared: 30+ Customers, No LTE Network

How many times is Zennstrom going to try to re-create Skype? There's only one Meg Whitman and she's probably not going to pay you billions for nothing again, pal.


Or maybe she will now that she has access to HP's budget. Hmmm.


Should be real interesting to read the business plan on how LightSquared will make money from a provider that doesn't charge anything for its services.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:46:50 PM
re: LightSquared: 30+ Customers, No LTE Network

How many times is Zennstrom going to try to re-create Skype? There's only one Meg Whitman and she's probably not going to pay you billions for nothing again, pal.


Or maybe she will now that she has access to HP's budget. Hmmm.


Should be real interesting to read the business plan on how LightSquared will make money from a provider that doesn't charge anything for its services.

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