LightSquared Eyes L-Band for LTE

LightSquared -- the operator that wants to create a nationwide, wholesale LTE network in the US -- is planning to use satellite spectrum from Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) for some of the radio bandwidth for the network.

LightSquared, which is backed by Harbinger Capital Partners LP , plans to pay British company Inmarsat a total of $337.5 million for L-Band spectrum that will help to fill out its coverage in the US and give both operators an increased amount of contiguous spectrum.

Under the terms of a 2007 cooperation deal between SkyTerra, which was bought out by Harbinger and re-cast as LightSquared, and Inmarsat, the wholesale operator has already paid the satellite firm $81.25 million and will follow that with a payment of $40 million every three months for 15 months. Inmarsat has to bear the cost of "certain network modifications" under the terms of the deal. (See LightSquared Reveals More Spectrum Plans.)

LightSquared says it wants to create a wholesale 4G network in the US that is "complemented by satellite coverage." The L-Band spectrum (1 to 2Ghz) it will have access to can be used for terrestrial and satellite services. The deal should help the operator answer the question of where it would find the spectrum to create another LTE network in the US. (See Harbinger Hatches LTE Challenger in US.) The operator has previously said that it wants to cover over 90 percent of the US population by 2015. Nokia Networks has signed on to provide the infrastructure. (See NSN Lands $7B LTE Deal in US .)

LightSquared's plans could, however, add to an ever-increasing number of LTE bands that device vendors will need to support if they want to support roaming between handsets. 700MHz will be the main LTE band in the US, but the AWS band will also be used. The problem gets worse when an operator needs legacy support for 3G voice bands, too. A vendor could be looking at support for more than 15 bands if it wants to create an LTE world phone. (See LTE: Don’t Expect to Roam Soon.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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