Technology

LightSquared Says it Has Accords With Five Customers


LightSquared seeks to compete with AT&T, Verizon, and Clearwire in providing 4G wireless service

(Bloomberg) Billionaire Philip Falcone's LightSquared Inc. wireless venture has agreements with five customers to provide wholesale fourth-generation service, the company's chief marketing officer said.

LightSquared, based in Reston, Virginia, has contracts with a national retailer, a device manufacturer, one Web site, and two carriers, said Frank Boulben in an interview yesterday in Barcelona, Spain. He declined to name the companies because the agreements aren't yet public.

LightSquared is seeking to compete with AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and Clearwire Corp. in providing 4G wireless service. Under a Federal Communications Commission order, the company has to build a network that covers up to 100 million Americans by the end of 2012 and 260 million by 2016.

Boulben said LightSquared, which is backed by Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, had amassed about $1.75 billion in debt and equity.

"We're not going to raise more in the short term," he said.

The service provider will begin network trials this year in Las Vegas, Baltimore, Denver and Phoenix after completing testing in a lab in the Dallas area, said Boulben. LightSquared is also in discussions with some carriers to share network equipment, he said.

GPS Study

LightSquared last month received a waiver from the FCC that lifts a requirement that devices using its service communicate directly with satellites. The FCC said LightSquared must participate in a working group with makers and users of global- positioning systems to ensure its service doesn't interfere with those communications.

Boulben said he was confident LightSquared would resolve any concerns about GPS interference, including possibly using filters on its cell sites. Groups such as Motorola Solutions Inc., the U.S. Department of Commerce and some small aircraft manufacturers have expressed concern that LightSquared's service may cause interfere with GPS and emergency communications.

"Most of our customers will use GPS so it's very important we get this right," said Boulben. "Having the FCC waiver is critical."

AnyDATA Corp., based in Irvine, California, has produced a prototype smartphone that will work on LightSquared's network, he said. LightSquared also said in October that Nokia Oyj would make mobile devices for its network.

Bensinger is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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