Philip Falcone’s satphone wannabe LightSquared, has agreements with five customers to provide wholesale fourth-generation service, the company’s chief marketing officer said today. Yesterday the company announced the successful post launch testing and acceptance of the SkyTerra 1 satellite and Space-Based Network (SBN) from Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.
The SkyTerra 1 satellite carries a 22-meter L-band antenna – the largest commercial antenna reflector in space. It was launched Nov. 14, 2010 on an International Launch Services Proton vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
LightSquared, based in Reston, Virginia, has contracts with a national retailer, a device manufacturer, one website, and two carriers, according to CMO Frank Boulben. He declined to name the companies because the agreements aren’t yet public.
AnyDATA, based in Irvine, California, has produced a prototype LTE modem that will work on LightSquared’s network. Anydata’s LTE modem uses Qualcomm MDM9600 technology. LightSquared also said in October that Nokia Oyj would make mobile devices for its network.
Garmin is standing by its position that Lightsquared could severely disrupt GPS service. Lightsquared’s terrestrial network of 40,000 towers around the U.S. would carry LTE signals on the 1.6 GHz band.
The FCC waiver (pdf) says it must restrict its signals to their assigned frequencies on the L Band 1 (1525 MHz—1559 MHz) and test existing GPS devices to see what kind of interference the transmitters might cause. GPS uses the a frequency range of 1159-1610 MHz.
The FCC said LightSquared must participate in a working group with makers and users of global- positioning systems to ensure its service doesn’t interfere with those communications. The FCC waver gave Lightsquared permission to go ahead with an initial terrestrial LTE network that would covers up to 100 million Americans by the end of 2012 and 260 million by 2016. The satellite link would be optional.
Lightsquared will begin network trials this year in Las Vegas, Baltimore, Denver and Phoenix after completing testing in a lab in the Dallas area. Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, has amassed about $1.75 billion in debt and equity.
Boulben said he was confident LightSquared would resolve any concerns about GPS interference, including possibly using filters on its cell sites. “Most of our customers will use GPS so it’s very important we get this right,” Boulben said. “Having the FCC waiver is critical.”
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