Leap Wireless, Best Buy make wholesale LTE deals with LightSquared

Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and Best Buy are the latest companies to make a deal with LightSquared for use of the company's planned nationwide LTE network.

LightSquared is building a wholesale nationwide LTE network using terrestrial and satellite spectrum and has indicated that several mobile operators will be using its network. Leap Wireless is the first carrier to be announced. Leap said it plans to roll out LTE in its markets and will use LightSquared's network to fill out its footprint over the next few years. Best Buy's Best Buy Connect service will also use the network, with trials beginning next year.

"We intend to deploy our own LTE networks beginning this year to complement the existing nationwide 3G services we currently offer to customers," said Leap President and CEO Doug Hutcheson in a release. "This new roaming arrangement will allow us to offer customers an even-greater 4G service area as LightSquared expands its own network. We believe that the broad coverage resulting from this business agreement will enhance our ability to offer compelling products and services and allow us to strengthen our retail relationships and distribution capabilities.  It will also give us flexibility to access additional 4G capacity where needed as data-centric devices become more popular and require more and more bandwidth."

Financial and other terms of the roaming agreement were not disclosed, but the move may have interesting implications on the data roaming issue the FCC is expected to address next month. Smaller operators, including Leap, have been lobbying the FCC for the past 18 months to rule on whether data roaming should be included in the current mandatory wireless roaming regulations that only include voice services at this point. When it comes to the 700 MHz spectrum, smaller operators want the FCC to require that device makers include all frequencies of the 700 MHz band to accommodate bands held by rural operators.

For more:
- see this release
- read this FierceWireless article

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