Harbinger Capital will sell its entire stake in Inmarsat, to focus on their ambitious 4G wireless broadband network utilizing Lightsquared, reports the Financial Times. Harbinger and Inmarsat still expect to work together to allow “4G” terrestrial devices using the 1.6 GHz Satellite spectrum.
Harbinger has already sold half of its 28% interest in Inmarsat last October, raising £410m ($650.3 million) at the time. On Monday Harbinger said it would sell 64.3m shares, or its remaining 14 per cent stake in Inmarsat, raising £431 million (US$695 million). The deal will leave Harbinger with no remaining shares in Inmarsat.
Inmarsat provides voice and data satellite services to ships, aircraft and military users as well as remote workers. Inmarsat has an agreement to work with LightSquared, Harbinger’s satellite arm, to combine terrestrial and satellite technology, creating a nationwide LTE network across the United States without the necessity of a spectrum auction.
The FCC authorized Lightsquared to bypass a previous ancillary terrestrial ruling that consumer devices must be able to communicate with its satellites.
Harbinger has a two part deal with Inmarsat for reusing frequencies. The first part of the deal is worth $340m (£211m) to Inmarsat over an 18-month period for leasing and rebranding its spectrum in the US. The second part of the deal, triggered last month, will see Inmarsat receive $115m a year over five years for a combination of spectrum and services that will enable Lightsquare’s terrestrial LTE network. Both Inmarsat and Lightsquared use the 1.6 GHz Mobile Satellite Spectrum. They control 20 Mhz of spectrum each (2×10 Mhz).
LightSquared’s terrestrial network will compete with other “4G” networks being built by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint’s Clearwire, as well as a potential new competitor using a 40 MHz swath being assembled by Dish Satellite chairman Charley Ergen, utilizing the 2GHz TerreStar and ICO satellite frequencies.
LightSquared says devices including data cards, embedded modules, personal hotspots, and routers will launch during the second half of 2011. By 2012, LightSquared’s service will expand to include Smartphones and other innovative next generation devices. Lightsquared claims it will cover at least 100 million Americans by December 31, 2012; 145 million by the end of 2013; and 260 million by the end of 2015.
LightSquared of Reston, Virginia, launched SkyTerra 1 in mid November, 2010. The craft is one of two that will provide satphone service in the second half of the year. Their 22-meter (72 feet) L-band reflector-based antenna is the largest commercial antenna reflector in space.
Now all LightSquared needs is some 40,000 L-band cell sites. Nokia Siemens Networks has signed an 8-year agreement worth $7 billion, says SkyTerra, to deploy, install, operate, and maintain LightSquared’s LTE network.
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