LightSquared continues satellite support; Sprint Nextel deal reportedly dead


Perhaps looking for at least some bit of positive news, LightSquared reported that its satellite operations will remain intact despite the dim prospects that it will be bolstered with a terrestrial-based component.

LightSquared said that it has extended the “emulation” phase of its current voice and mobile data services that run through its SkyTerra-1 satellite network through the end of 2015, with plans to evaluate an extension of those services as it works on plans for “next generation satellite services.” The Boeing-made SkyTerra-1 satellite was launched in late 2010 from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, and suffered an initial glitch in one of its antennas that was quickly remedied.

The satellite was expected to work in concert with a terrestrial-based cellular network to provide ubiquitous nationwide coverage, a plan that has since been put on hold as LightSquared has yet to be granted access to its 1.6 GHz spectrum assets to support the ground-based service.

LightSquared noted that the SkyTerra-1 satellite would emulate its existing services run through its MSAT 1 and MSAT 2 satellites, including push-to-talk and was compatible with all of its current devices. The company added that the satellite was currently supporting a majority of its customers, with the MSAT 1 and MSAT 2 satellites expected to remain in use for redundancy capabilities.

“Our existing satellite customers will not see any change in service or coverage as a result of recent regulatory events,” said Bryan Hartin, VP of sales, distribution and business development for LightSquared. “LightSquared’s mission is to support every user through the emulation period and transition them to a next generation LightSquared satellite platform.”

LightSquared recently announced plans to cut 45% of its 330-strong workforce in a move to preserve funds.

In other LightSquared news, Bloomberg News is reporting that Sprint Nextel is set to sever ties with the company. Sprint Nextel was set to provide spectrum and network hosting services to LightSquared in a deal announced last year that would have generated up to $9 billion for Sprint Nextel. That deal was predicated on LightSquared gaining access to its spectrum assets by the end of 2011. Sprint Nextel provided LightSquared with a pair of extensions on that proposal, but following the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to not grant LightSquared access to its spectrum due to interference concerns, Sprint Nextel appears to have moved on.

Wells Fargo Securities noted in a research note that Sprint Nextel will be required to return about $70 million of the $319 million in funds it has so far received from LightSquared.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”