LightSquared: We want to be the dumbest wireless broadband pipe

SAN FRANCISCO--Most wireless operator CEOs would cringe at being called a "dumb pipe." However, LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja appears to relish in that designation. Speaking at the Open Mobile Summit here, Ahuja said that LightSquared wants to be the dumbest wireless broadband pipe and envisions itself operating like a utility, where all the intelligence resides with its wholesale partners. Those partners will provide the retail distribution, the customer service, the devices and more.

"I want no intelligence in our network. I want intelligence provided by our partners. We are an absolute utility," Ahuja said.

Ahuja added that his company, which is proposing to build a nationwide wholesale LTE network in L-band satellite spectrum, will play an important role in solving the impending spectrum crisis. In fact, he said that based upon current growth in mobile broadband data usage, the industry is on track to run out of spectrum in the next two to three years.

"This is what we are trying to do at LightSquared. We will use valuable spectrum to deliver broadband coverage to the U.S.," he said. And he added that the company's plan to offer wholesale capacity to its partners such as Best Buy and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), as well as several smaller wireless operators as well as CLECs, will help "democratize mobile broadband."

Regarding LightSquared's ongoing battle with the GPS industry over potential interference issues, Ahuja reiterated the company is confident that it will be able to resolve any problems. "We have proposed several solutions that were built by folks that have been in the GPS industry for a long time. We think those challenges are behind us."

Last week the company announced that it had partnered with antenna maker PCTEL, which LightSquared said has developed an antenna that will allow existing high-precision GPS users to retrofit their GPS devices to make them compatible with LightSquared's network. And Last month the company signed a deal with Javad GNSS to develop a system that can be adapted to work with high-precision GPS devices.

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