LightSquared Grabs More Spectrum, Customers

LightSquared is tapping Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) for more spectrum as it signs wholesale customers for its LTE network, which is slated for an initial launch in the third quarter of 2011.

"We are pleased to report that LightSquared is experiencing very strong demand for capacity on its 4G-LTE wholesale network, and therefore we have decided to accelerate the triggering of Phase 2 of our agreement with Inmarsat," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared, in a statement.

Phase 2 of the Inmarsat deal should give the operation up to 59MHz of terrestrial and L-Band ATC spectrum over the United States and Canada at a cost of $115 million annually. LightSquared, which is backed by Harbinger Capital Partners LP , originally revealed plans to pay Inmarsat a total of $337.5 million for L-Band spectrum back in August of 2010.

LightSquared isn't saying which operators might have signed up for its wholesale LTE service yet, preferring to leave that to the operators, but is hoping for news soon. "We’ve signed our first customers and we're in advanced negotiations with a number of others," a spokesman for LightSquared tells Light Reading Mobile.

There has been speculation that T-Mobile US Inc. could be one of the operators interested in spectrum. Although at its recent investor day, T-Mobile executives stressed that they have no need for fresh spectrum right away.

Why this matters
LightSquared has taken a couple of steps toward its goal of providing wholesale LTE in the U.S. despite concerns about the venture's funding in the future. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved LightSquared's plan to provide mobile broadband -- with the provision that the firm work with the GPS industry to address any interference concerns -- and earmarked more bandwidth to put its plans into action.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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