Bloomberg News

LightSquared Reaches 30 Customers as Service Still Faces Hurdles

December 12, 2011

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. wireless venture has gained more than 30 customers even as the wholesale-service provider seeks to clear regulatory hurdles to begin operations.

Clients range from established carriers including Sprint Nextel Corp. to startups, such as FreedomPop, a broadband venture by Skype Technologies SA co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, Reston, Virginia-based LightSquared said today in a statement.

The customer gains signal demand for LightSquared’s service, which has faced delays as regulators study whether its network interferes with navigation systems. The company plans a high-speed service to challenge wholesalers such as Clearwire Corp. and larger carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to approve LightSquared to start operations and use airwaves formerly reserved mainly for satellites. The company should be barred from using some airwaves for its planned network to avoid interference with navigation gear, makers and users of global-positioning system devices have said.

LightSquared, backed by $3 billion from Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, this week said tests show that GPS devices from three makers won’t be disrupted by its network. In July, LightSquared said it expected to be able to offer service to 260 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2014, a year earlier than required under its licenses with the FCC.

FedEx, Deere Opposition

U.S. officials are weighing data gathered in separate tests and haven’t stated a timeline for determining whether LightSquared may cause unacceptable interference, Moira Vahey, a spokeswoman for the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, said this week.

LightSquared is to face another round of tests on whether it interferes with high-precision GPS devices, according to a plan laid out by Vahey’s agency, which is part of the Commerce Department and helping to guide the U.S. response to the company’s proposal.

Coalition to Save Our GPS, a group formed to oppose LightSquared’s plans, lists members including package shippers FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., GPS-unit maker Garmin Ltd., farm-gear maker Deere & Co. and the Air Transport Association with members Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines.

--Editors: Cecile Daurat, Ville Heiskanen

To contact the reporter on this story: Ville Heiskanen in New York at vheiskanen@bloomberg.net; Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net; Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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