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LightSquared, the satellite phone company that plans to build a terrestrial tower network, must act fast, it may miss critical deadlines laid out by the FCC and could lose its airwaves, reports MocoNetnews.

According to the November issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, which features a front page article titled “From Subprime to Satellites,” the cash requirements to build a network of its size will be considerable.

LightSquared is backed by Harbinger, a hedge fund managed by Philip Falcone, who got rich by out-smarting the subprime housing bubble. Harbinger has spent $2.9 billion so far, and will have to pay Nokia Siemens Networks $7 billion to build and operate its network over the next eight years.

The company is competing against established players that have already built networks, like AT&T, Verizon and Clearwire, and it faces opposition from investors within Harbinger. That ultimately may put a snag in its plans.

One of the FCC’s requirements is that it will have to serve 100 million people by the end of 2012. Here’s some milestones it will have to meet along the way, according to MocoNews:

LightSquared says it will cover at least 100 million Americans by December 31, 2012; 145 million by the end of 2013; and 288 million by the end of 2015.

  • December 2010: Start building a network of 36,000 cellular base stations and launch a satellite.
  • First half of 2011: Begin trials of wireless broadband service in Baltimore, Denver, las Vegas and Phoenix.
  • Mid-2001: Provide service to smartphones that can use both cellular and satellite network.
  • Dec. 31, 2012: Expand cellular network capacity to serve 100 million people in the U.S.
  • Dec. 31, 2015: Enable 260 million people, or 90 percent of the U.S. population, to access network.

The FCC’s Notice of Rulemaking earlier this year involved 90 MHz of spectrum in three different satellite phone bands. It would be capable of supporting terrestrial broadband service.

The TerreStar satellite and ICO (at 2 GHz) and SkyTerra (at 1.6 GHZ) all have 20 MHz available for satphone services. Terrestrial service via Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) towers could take about half that spectrum for terrestrial LTE services.

New York-based Harbinger now owns all of SkyTerra and some 44 percent of TerreStar, as well as 29 percent of London-based Inmarsat, the veteran mobile satellite services provider.

TerreStar-1, using the 2 GHz MSS band, was launched on July 1, 2009. It was constructed by Space Systems/Loral and is the world’s largest and most powerful commercial satellite ever launched, with an antenna almost 60 feet across, and supporting 500 dynamically-configurable spot beams. (Form 8K)

A new 1.6 GHz satellite platform, SkyTerra-1 was scheduled for launch this November with SkyTerra-2 to be launched next year. SkyTerra1 and SkyTerra2 are built by Boeing, using ILS launch services. But Boeing discovered a technical glitch in SkyTerra-1 satellite, postponing the launch by ILS from Kazakhstan to December or early 2011. SkyTerra will implement LightSquared’s Cooperative Agreement with Inmarsat (which also uses the 1.5/1.6 GHz (“L Band”), that will be integrated with SkyTerra’s 1.6 GHz satellite network.

TerreStar’s $799 Windows Mobile-based Genus phone was announced for AT&T, offering a combination of GSM/HSPA and satellite access when far from a cell tower.

The phone costs $799 without a two-year contract, and requires regular AT&T voice and data service plans. It uses the AT&T network where it’s available. The option to be able to switch over to the satellite costs $25 extra per month, and then 65 cents per minute of calling.

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