LightSquared CEO: We're in contract negotiations with 15 companies

LightSquared is in negotiations with 15 companies that want to use its wholesale LTE network, the company's CEO said, comments that shed more clarity on the firm's strategy as it moves toward a commercial launch of its service later this year.

"There are 60-plus discussions, and 15 of those are at a stage where we are negotiating contracts with our customers," LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja told the Financial Times.

Cablevision is considering a partnership with LightSquared, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited an unnamed source. The report came shortly after another Bloomberg report, which said that Time Warner Cable, Cablevision's rival, also was considering a deal with LightSquared.

Audrey Schaefer, a LightSquared spokeswoman, declined to comment on the Bloomberg report. She told FierceWireless that LightSquared does not have a specific timeframe for announcing customers, and that the company follows the preference of customers on whether they want the deal to be publicly known.

LightSquared is conducting LTE trials in Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, with commercial launches planned by the third quarter of this year. The company has committed to cover 100 million POPs by the end of 2012, 145 million by the end of 2013 and 260 million by the end of 2015.

Ahuja is trying to position LightSquared as a company that can disrupt the wireless industry at a time when spectrum is scarce and consolidation is rampant, given AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA for $39 billion.

LightSquared said last week it signed a wholesale deal with Best Buy to have the retailer's Best Buy Connect service ride on its planned LTE network; Best Buy will begin trials on LightSquared's network in the first quarter of 2012. The announcement came a day after the company inked an LTE roaming deal with Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP). Still, LightSquared's plans are not without complications. The company is facing pressure over GPS interference concerns on its L-Band spectrum and will need billions of dollars in capital to meet its aggressive buildout timetable.

For more:
- see this FT article
- see this Bloomberg article

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