LightSquared in net share discussions with Sprint

LightSquared, the US wholesale network operator, is in talks with Sprint to strike a network share deal, in a scheme designed to accelerate build out of its LTE network, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The 15-year deal, if it were to go ahead, would see LightSquared pay Sprint US$20bn for access to its network, helping it meet the deadlines imposed on it by the FCC, which require that it cover 100 million US citizens by the end of 2012, and 260 million by 2016. The move would also enable Sprint to access spare capacity on LightSquared’s network.

The move is possible due to a critical waiver from the FCC in January that permitted LightSquared customers to offer handsets that only have terrestrial capabilities and are not able to access the operator’s satellites.

LightSquared’s Martin Harriman was a speaker and panellist at the recent LTE World Summit held in Amsterdam,  where he said that: “We’ve likened satellite coverage to gym membership. We want everyone to have it, be we don’t want people to go!”

Sprint said last year that it would spend US$4-5bn on upgrading its network over the next five years, in conjunction with Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung. Sprint currently uses Wimax to offer services marketed as 4G in the US, but is expected to make a transition to LTE.

LightSquared is currently awaiting an FCC report on whether its network is likely to interfere with GPS signals, a decision that will have great impact on the success of the company, which is looking to revolutionise the network carrier market in the US with its wholesale model.

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