Sprint, LightSquared officially end spectrum agreement

US carrier Sprint has officially broken up with troubled LTE wholesale opportunist LightSquared, ending the spectrum hosting agreement signed in June 2011. As part of the break up, Sprint has repaid $65m to LightSquared, for expected costs that have not been incurred.

The money could come in useful; LightSquared’s future is looking increasingly shaky as it struggles to beat regulatory constrictions in an effort to actually launch its network. Last week, the firm hired well-known solicitor Theodore Olsen in a final bid to save its seemingly doomed terrestrial LTE project. Olsen’s main claim to fame was helping George W. Bush claim a victory in the 2000 US election in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case.

The move is a last gasp attempt by LightSquared to force the FCC to reverse its decision to revoke the waiver that gave approval for LightSquared to operate a terrestrial LTE service using its satellite spectrum, a move that essentially grounded LightSquared’s plans.

The FCC revoked the waiver after strong pressure from the GPS community after numerous technical tests claimed that LightSquared proposed L-band terrestrial spectrum would cause widespread interference with GPS equipment.

Under the agreement terminated with Sprint, the US carrier had agreed to deploy and operate an LTE network capable of utilizing the 1.6GHz spectrum available to LightSquared. The agreement contained contingencies related to possible interference issues with LightSquared’s spectrum, including Sprint’s right to terminate the agreement if certain conditions were not met by LightSquared.

Sprint is leaving the door open however. “Sprint has been and continues to be supportive of LightSquared’s business plans and appreciates the company’s efforts to find a resolution to the interference issues impacting its ability to offer service on the 1.6 GHz spectrum. However, due to these unresolved issues, and subject to the provisions of the agreement, Sprint has elected to exercise its right to terminate the agreement announced last summer. We remain open to considering future spectrum hosting agreements with LightSquared, should they resolve these interference issues, as well as other interested spectrum holders,” Sprint said.

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