LightSquared's Ahuja jumps ship, company remains committed to network buildout

Sanjiv Ahuja said he will step down as the CEO of LightSquared. Two other LightSquared executives, Doug Smith and Marc Montagner, will serve as the company's interim co-chief operating officers while LightSquared searches for a new CEO. Importantly, the company said it is not abandoning its plan to build out a nationwide wholesale LTE network.

Ahuja

"Sanjiv has shown great leadership in bringing the LightSquared vision to this point, including leveraging his experience in the telecom industry to sign dozens of critical partnerships across the country," said Philip Falcone, chief of Harbinger Capital Partners, the hedge fund that is backing LightSquared. "As the company takes the next step forward, we continue to be excited about the prospects and look forward to working with new leadership to accomplish our goal of building and operating an innovative, competitive wireless network."

Ahuja was brought on as LightSquared's CEO in 2010 to help the company design and launch its planned LTE network. However, during the past few years, LightSquared has been unable to convince regulators that its network operations will not interfere with precision GPS signals. LightSquared was dealt a crippling blow earlier this month when, based on testing evaluated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the FCC said it would not allow LightSquared to build its planned LTE network.

"During my tenure at LightSquared, we all worked tirelessly to create the nation's first open wireless broadband network and provide consumers with a new wireless broadband experience," Ahuja said. "That work continues and I wish the company and its fine management team well as they work to achieve this important goal."

Doug Smith is currently LightSquared's chief network officer, and Marc Montagner is currently the company's chief financial officer. Falcone said he has been appointed to the company's board of directors. LightSquared said it expects its CEO search "to be completed in the near future."

Ahuja, a former Orange executive, isn't the only LightSquared worker on his way out. The company announced last week that 45 percent of its 330-person workforce would be cut.

For more:
- see this release

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