New York – A new
4G-LTE wireless network to be built by hedge-fund-backed
will provide terrestrial-
and satellite-based voice and data service on a wholesale basis to retailers,
cable operators and other companies that want to offer service under their own
Companies reselling LightSquared service would
be allowed under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations to offer a
terrestrial-only service or an integrated terrestrial/satellite service in
which VoIP calls and data sessions could be handed off between the terrestrial
network and satellite. Satellite-only service would be available in Canada and
LightSquared called its planned network model
the “first truly open and net-neutral wireless network,” which it said would
spur the development of new types of wireless devices, applications and
services. The company also said its planned wholesale-only business model would
assure its customers that LightSquared won’t compete with them under its own
The launch, if successful, promises to bring
added competition to the wireless industry and potentially more wireless brand names.
In the second half of next year, the service
will be available on a wholesale basis in four markets — Baltimore, Denver,
Phoenix and Las Vegas — as part of a national rollout that will expand service
to at least 100 million people by the end of 2012, a spokesman said. By the end
of 2013, the company will expand service to 145 million people, and by the end
of 2015, service will be available to 92 percent of the U.S. population by the
end of 2015, based on an agreement with the FCC.
The company behind
the 2GHz-band service was founded by New York hedge fund Harbinger Capital
Partners, which just awarded a $7 billion contract to Nokia Siemens Networks to
build, operate and maintain about 40,000 terrestrial cellular base stations.
Boeing will build the satellite, which will launch be operated by Telesat.
Integrated satellite/terrestrial services
will be competitive in price to current terrestrial 3G and 4G service prices
because of the capacity of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology and the
LightSquared’s satellite’s “very efficient reuse of spectrum,” which is enabled
by spot beaming, the spokesman told TWICE. Satellite data rates will be similar
to terrestrial 4G data rates because of the satellite’s high power and spot
beaming, the spokesman added.
Harbinger contributed $2.9 billion in assets
to LightSquared. Those assets consist mainly of 59MHz of 2GHz L-band radio
spectrum owned by Harbinger. That includes spectrum previously owned by
satellite-phone operator SkyTerra Communications, which Harbinger purchased in
March. SkyTerra offers satellite-phone service direct to vertical markets and
through wholesale arrangements with dealers and service providers.
announced its obtained additional debt and equity financing up to $1.75
and cable operators, LightSquared sees regional cellular carriers as among its
prime targets, although companies such as mobile-device makers, content
companies and websites could offer service as well.
could use LightSquared’s network to expand service within their region or
expand service to new regions, the spokesman said. Major national carriers
could also utilize the service to expand network capacity, although the FCC
restricted the company from offering more than 25 percent of its capacity to
the two largest national carriers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
For his part, FCC
chairman Julius Genachowski said the network launch had the potential to create
more than 100,000 new private-sector jobs within five years.