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LightSquared Files Chapter 11

New York – LightSquared, which hoped to offer national 4G
LTE service on a wholesale basis, filed Chapter 11 here in a federal bankruptcy
court, Bloomberg reported.

The carrier defaulted on debt to lenders after the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) found early this year that the company’s
spectrum, originally meant for satellite use, would interfere with GPS devices.

The voluntary Chapter 11 filing will give LightSquared “sufficient breathing room to continue working through the regulatory process that will allow us to build our 4G wireless network,” said Marc Montagner, interim co-COO and CFO. “All of our efforts are focused on concluding this process in an efficient and successful manner.”

The FCC based its decision on a conclusion by the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) “that there is no
practical way to mitigate potential interference [with GPS devices] at this

LightSquared planned to repurpose satellite spectrum next to
the GPS band to build a national terrestrial LTE cellular and offer service on
a wholesale to companies that would resell the service under their own brands to
end users. Companies that signed agreements with LightSquared included Best Buy,
regional carrier Leap Wireless, and Net Talk. Sprint, which planned to build
and operate the network for LightSquared, also talked up the potential to
resell LightSquared service under its own name.

The NTIA, which coordinates spectrum uses for the military
and other federal government entities, said in a letter to the FCC that “it is
clear that LightSquared’s proposed implementation plans, including operations
in the lower 10MHz [farther from the GPS band] would impact both
general/personal navigation and certified aviation GPS receivers.” NTIA also
contended that “there are no mitigation strategies that both solve the
interference issues and provide LightSquared with an adequate commercial
network deployment.” (The text of the NTIA letter is here.)

In late 2010, the FCC granted a conditional waiver order
that allowed LightSquared to begin commercial operation but only after harmful
interference issues were resolved.

The company had planned in 2011 to build its network in four
markets as part of a national rollout that would expand service to at least 100
million people by the end of 2012. By the end of 2013, the company had hoped to
expand service to 145 million people, and by the end of 2015, make service be
available to 92 percent of the U.S. population.