LightSquared jumpstarts deal with Inmarsat for LTE spectrum

LightSquared, the private-equity-backed company that is building a wholesale LTE network, announced a deal with British satellite firm Inmarsat that will allow it to get access to contiguous L-band spectrum.

The deal was first forged in 2007 between Inmarsat and SkyTerra, which was acquired in March by Harbinger Capital Partners, the firm behind LightSquared. The deal calls for the implementation of Phase 1 of that agreement.

Inmarsat will begin an 18-month process of re-banding the spectrum, which is in the 1.6 GHz band, to increase spectrum contiguity. LightSquared will pay Inmarsat a total of $337.5 million in a series of installments. The companies also said that LightSquared could kickstart Phase 2 of the deal any time between now and the end of 2012, whereby Inmarsat would make additional spectrum available at a cost of $115 million per year.

LightSquared has said its wholesale LTE network will allow for terrestrial-only, satellite-only or integrated satellite-terrestrial services (via the terrestrial and MSS spectrum Harbinger scored through a merger in March with satellite operator SkyTerra). LightSquared is planning initial LTE trials in Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, with commercial launches planned by the third quarter of 2011. The company, which has access to 59 MHz of spectrum, has said the network will consist of around 40,000 cellular base stations and will cover 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015.

The firm, which is headed by former Orange CEO Sanjiv Ahuja, recently inked a $7 billion deal with Nokia Siemens Networks for network design and equipment. 

For more:
- see this release

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