LightSquared CEO Ahuja confident FCC will approve network plan

LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said he is so confident the FCC will approve the company's conditional waiver to allow its wholesale customers to provide terrestrial-only LTE service that he is not even planning for an alternative.

LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja


"When you look at the testing and the technical data, there's no reason to believe that the decision should go against LightSquared," Ahuja told CNET.

LightSquared submitted a modified network plan to the FCC June 30 that it argues will mitigate interference from the company's base stations on GPS receivers. The company initially intends to use the lower portion of its L-band spectrum holdings for its network, a design the company said shows less interference than the upper portion of the band. The GPS industry has heavily criticized the new plan as inadequate and untested.

The FCC is reviewing the new plan, and a decision about the waiver is not expected to be announced for weeks if not longer.

In the meantime, as LightSquared celebrates its one-year anniversary, the company is forging ahead with its network plans. The company has been testing its base stations and getting its infrastructure in place without actually turning on the network.

LightSquared CMO Frank Boulben told CNET the company has signed up seven customers, although one hasn't been made public yet. Additionally, the company is in active negotiations with 22 others and is helping 30 more come up with business plans to use its networks. Ahuja said by the middle of next year he expects LightSquared to have sold a quarter of the network capacity it had expected to sell by 2015, significantly higher than his initial forecast.

Despite ongoing concerns over potential interference with GPS, LightSquared managed to secure another $265 million in capital earlier this month, which Ahuja said is encouraging. In total, the company has raised $2.3 billion in financing this year.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will confirm its reported network-sharing deal with LightSquared when Sprint announces its second-quarter earnings on July 28, according to a report earlier this month in CNET. The article, which cites unidentified sources familiar with the deal, said Sprint was supposed to provide an update on its next-generation network plans at mid-year, but pushed back those plans and will now announce them when it releases its earnings.

Last month, Bloomberg reported Sprint had reached a 15-year network-sharing deal with LightSquared worth around $20 billion. Bloomberg cited a letter written by Philip Falcone to Harbinger Capital Partners investors that said Sprint and LightSquared will jointly build LightSquared's nationwide network, and Sprint will be a wholesale user of LightSquared's LTE network. However, neither Sprint nor LightSquared confirmed the reports.

For more:
- see this CNET article

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