LightSquared completes network share deal with Sprint

LightSquared, the US operator planning to build a wholesale LTE network, has finalised a 15-year deal with fellow carrier Sprint that will see the two sharing infrastructure.

While neither party has officially confirmed the news, Bloomberg said that it has obtained a letter from LightSquared’s billionaire owner Philip Falcone to his Harpinger Capital Partners hedge fund investors, informing them of the deal.

The agreement, which is said to be worth as much as US$20bn, will enable LightSquared to use Sprint’s towers to build out its network, greatly accelerating the process. Ironically, the deal means that Sprint could end up being one of LightSquared wholesale customers.

Sprint currently has an agreement with Clearwire to supply ‘4G’ services based on Wimax, but the LightSquared deal indicates that it is looking to make the move to LTE. The indications are that Clearwire itself will also make the move to LTE, and if this occurs it’s possible that Sprint could use both LightSquared and Clearwire for future LTE services.

LightSquared is hoping to become a disruptive force in the US telco market by offering an LTE network to customers on a wholesale basis, taking on incumbents such as Verizon, Metro PCS and AT&T. Its license requires that it covers 92 per cent of the US population by 2015 and to do that it has been looking at satellite coverage. However, it has recently faced a setback, with a number of recent tests confirming that its network causes significant interference with GPS signals on the ground and in space. LightSquared has agreed an extension of producing its own report on the interference, with a deadline of 1 July.

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