To fully understand the calamity that was LightSquared, you have to go back to around 2010, when the company launched with the goal of building a wholesale nationwide LTE network that customers could use to provide their own wireless services.
Early on, GPS advocates said LightSquared's L-band spectrum, in the 1.5-1.6 GHz band, was too close to GPS spectrum and would wreak havoc on GPS users. That sparked alarms at the U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Transportation, which urged the FCC to instigate a comprehensive study of the potential interference problems with GPS.
Adding to LightSquared’s problems were concerns that the company came by its spectrum after a trio of government agency bureau chiefs illegally granted it a nationwide cellular license in a spectrum band allocated for satellite communications.
Meanwhile, everyone from Sprint Nextel to Time Warner reportedly was interested in using LightSquared’s forthcoming LTE network. The company even signed on Leap Wireless and Best Buy as wholesale customers; the CEO at the time claimed the company was in negotiations with 15 companies that wanted to use the network.
Indeed, LightSquared ultimately inked deals with roughly three dozen customers before the FCC revoked its conditional license to operate in the L-band, citing unresolved concerns over interference and forcing LightSquared into bankruptcy.
After nearly three years in bankruptcy protection, the wireless firm finally won approval for a new restructuring plan from a federal bankruptcy court judge in 2015. But before that happened, a lot of drama unfolded—fights for control of the firm involving investor Philip Falcone and a disagreement with Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen over his debt claims (that eventually were settled), to name a few.
The company wisely rebranded itself; it’s now known as Ligado, and it’s narrowed its business plan to focus on the industrial IoT and 5G. With so much behind it, the company says it’s now “go time” to put its plan into motion.