LightSquared suffers satellite glitch, stays on track for LTE launch

LightSquared confirmed a minor malfunction in its recently launched satellite, but said its buildout plans for its wholesale LTE network remain on target.

The satellite, which launched Nov. 14, has a slight glitch that is preventing its antenna reflector from opening properly, according to Boeing, which put the satellite into orbit. The satellite will supplement LightSquared's terrestrial network and provide voice and data connectivity.

"Boeing, in close partnership with its LightSquared customer, has assembled a team of experts to assess progress and continue deployment of the antenna," Boeing said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. "As with any post-launch checkout, it's not unexpected for minor delays to occur."

LightSquared, which is backed by the hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, is planning to build a nationwide LTE network that covers 92 percent of the U.S. population. The company 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 spokesman Tom Surface said Boeing has told the company it is expecting an early 2011 delivery, which is what the company had planned. He said progress for 2011 remains on track.

LightSquared is planning initial LTE trials in Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, with commercial launches planned by the third quarter of 2011. Surface said Nokia Siemens Networks has been building the company's network for the past several months. Nokia Siemens secured a $7 billion deal to design and build LightSquared's network.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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