Sharp to supply LightSquared with LTE smartphones, tablets

LightSquared said it will partner with Sharp to develop smartphones and tablets for its wholesale LTE network, another indication that despite the calls for more testing of the company's network for GPS interference, it is plowing ahead with its plans.

lightsquared nokia sharp prototype

Click here for prototype devices LightSquared showed off earlier this year.

LightSquared said the agreement will allow it to leverage Sharp's product solutions to develop a range of devices that will incorporate Sharp device components, including Sharp's advanced LCD panel and camera module. LightSquared said it will show off the devices at next week's CTIA Enterprise & Applications conference in San Diego.

The announcement comes almost a year after LightSquared announced device deals with Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and other companies. LightSquared said at the time that Qualcomm will provide a chipset that supports its L-Band 1.6 GHz LTE spectrum. The chip, the MDM9600, also supports satellite services via an air interface technology called Enhanced Geostationary Air Link, or EGAL. LightSquared also said it would work with Nokia on branded, data-centric devices in support of Nokia Siemens Networks' buildout of LightSquared's network. Additionally, LightSquared tapped AnyData and BandRich to provide embedded modules, USB data modems and other devices.

A LightSquared spokeswoman said the deals with Qualcomm, AnyData and BandRich are still in place, and that the company is "still in discussions" with Nokia on device development. As a result of LightSquared's $9 billion network-hosting deal with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), Nokia Siemens is no longer providing the radio-access network for LightSquared's network but is still providing the evolved packet core.

The fresh device developments come as uncertainty over when LightSquared's network will commercially launch continues to swirl. The company needs FCC approval to turn on its network, and the FCC declared that more tests are needed to sort out GPS interference concerns.

The FCC's notice came after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration sent a letter to the Departments of Defense and Transportation, which said that the NTIA wants to have more tests as well. The NTIA said testing for personal/general-navigation receivers must be designed to allow for completion by Nov. 30, but that testing a PCTEL antenna to mitigate interference with timing receivers need not be completed by Nov. 30, and that testing for precision receivers cannot even start yet. The FCC gave no timetable in its public notice for when its requested tests will be completed.

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