Report: LightSquared to cut NSN loose, will share network with Sprint

LightSquared plans to use Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) new, multi-mode base stations as the cornerstone of its wholesale LTE network, and will abandon Nokia Siemens Networks as its infrastructure partner, according to DSLReports.

The report, which cited an unnamed source, said LightSquared held meetings at its headquarters in Reston, Va., last week to discuss its plans, which include dropping NSN in favor of Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Samsung--which are Sprint's partners for its network modernization plan. The report also said MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) will be a LightSquared partner eventually.

A source familiar with LightSquared's plans who asked to remain anonymous confirmed to FierceWireless the broad outlines of the meetings, as described by DSLReports. The source said there were around 20 participants at the meetings, including LightSquared's vendor partners.

Representatives from Sprint and LightSquared declined to comment. A Nokia Siemens spokeswoman, Carol Dematteo, told FierceWireless the company is still working with LightSquared. She said the vendor continues to "work hard with LightSquared to help them in building out their first markets and meeting their commitments to their customers and stakeholders."

LightSquared inked a $7 billion deal with Nokia Siemens last year to design,  build and manage its terrestrial network. LightSquared, which received a waiver from the FCC in January to provide terrestrial-only service instead of having to provide both satellite and terrestrial service, intends to launch its first markets in the third quarter.

Current Analysis analyst Peter Jarich said that if Nokia Siemens were to lose the LightSquared deal, it would not be a major loss in one sense, since LightSquared is not a particularly strong LTE reference. However: "If they lose it, and they lose it to competitors, that's not a good thing. Particularly because it's not just an infrastructure deal--it's an infrastructure and managed services deal," he said.

Rob Mesirow, vice president of operations at CTIA, recently told FierceWireless that LightSquared will announce significant news at the upcoming CTIA trade show in Orlando, Fla. LightSquared and Ericsson are participating in a keynote session March 23 at the event.

Interestingly, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse recently said the carrier's network modernization project could allow the carrier to "host other people's spectrum on that core network." He did not provide details.

For more:
- see this DSLReports article

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