Ambitious U.S. wireless broadband scheme unveiled
A broadband network called LightSquared would cover 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015.
Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 01:44 PM
CONNECTED: LightSquared’s satellite and mobile broadband network would offer broadband capacity to wireless providers, retailers, cable operators, device makers, content providers and other businesses. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)
An investment firm unveiled an ambitious plan on Tuesday to build a high-speed wireless broadband network that would cover more than 90 percent of the United States by 2015.
New York-based Harbinger Capital Partners said it has signed a $7 billion agreement with Finnish-German giant Nokia Siemens Networks to "deploy, install, operate, and maintain" a broadband network called "LightSquared."
LightSquared said its satellite and mobile broadband network would offer broadband capacity to wireless providers, retailers, cable operators, device makers, content providers and other businesses.
"The nationwide LightSquared network, consisting of approximately 40,000 cellular base stations, will cover 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015," LightSquared said in a statement.
"In addition, from commercial launch it will offer the entire nation coverage through its satellite," it said.
"By using satellite coverage, we can ensure constant connectivity, even if the terrestrial network is not available," said Sanjiv Ahuja, the former chief executive of France's Orange who was named chairman and CEO of the new venture.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has made expanding access to high-speed Internet one of his top priorities, welcomed the new venture.
"I was pleased to learn of the formation of LightSquared today," Genachowski said in a statement.
"This new nationwide 4G wireless broadband network represents more than $7 billion of new investment, with the potential to create more than 100,000 new private-sector jobs within five years," he said.
LightSquared is backed by Philip Falcone, founder and chief executive of Harbinger Capital Partners, which recently acquired SkyTerra Communications, Inc., now part of LightSquared.
"Demand for wireless broadband is growing at a rapid pace and there is an increasing need for additional network capacity and reach," Falcone said.
Ahuja said LightSquared "will be a disruptive force in the U.S. wireless landscape by democratizing wireless broadband services."
"We're providing everyone, including underserved communities, with a fast, reliable experience regardless of where they are located in the United States," he said. "This network will return our country to its rightful position as a leader in wireless broadband technology."
LightSquared said it expects to launch commercially in the second half of next year and to cover at least 100 million Americans by December 2012.
The partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks was announced one day after the Finnish-German giant announced plans to buy most of Motorola's wireless network infrastructure assets for 1.2 billion dollars.
LightSquared plans to use LTE, or Long Term Evolution, technology for its fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless broadband network.
U.S. telecom provider Sprint Nextel Corp. is currently rolling out a mobile broadband network based on a rival 4G technology called WiMax.
The two leading U.S. wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, are building networks using the LTE standard.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition