Lightsquared Signs Cricket Wireless

Satellite phone provider LightSquared has signed a long-term LTE roaming deal with Cricket provider Leap Wireless. Its the first major wholesale partner for Lightsquared, which is facing some serious opposition from GPS interests over possible interference issues. Lightsquared announced a similar deal with Open Range Communications, a rural fixed broadband provider.

The deal will allow Leap to supplement LTE coverage, notes Fierce Wireless, with roaming on LightSquared’s network. The companies did not specify when Leap will begin using LightSquared’s network, which is scheduled to launch sometime in the third quarter.

Leap’s flat-rate rival MetroPCS, which launched LTE service last year, has indicated interest in a partnership with LightSquared, but so far hasn’t closed a deal.

If Harbinger can strike a deal with MetroPCS to make a joint bid for the TerreStar and DBSD spectrum, then any LTE buildout might also be counted towards Lightsquare’s build-out obligations, according to satellite consultant Tim Farrar. MetroPCS already has about 97M covered POPs.

Leap plans to launch its first LTE trial market later this year.

In January, the FCC approved a request to allow LightSquared to lease its airwaves for traditional mobile phones, meaning it can lease them to companies that offer normal smartphones rather than pricier satellite-enabled phones.

But GPS companies are fighting the company’s plan, saying the 1.6 GHz radio band could degrade GPS performance. That may shift the action over to the 2 GHz band — although the same kind of cellular band sharing is no sure thing on the 2 GHz spectrum. That spectrum was controlled by (now bankrupt) ICO and Terrestar, and appears to be in play with Charlie Ergen and Harbinger Partners fighting for world dominance.

LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja is scheduled to deliver a keynote presentation Wednesday during the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show, and is expected to outline more details about the company’s plans. LightSquared was rumored to have a network sharing agreement with Sprint. Perhaps all will be revealed.

LightSquared is conducting LTE trials in Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, with commercial launches planned by the third quarter of this year. Nokia, AnyData and Qualcomm are working on devices.

LightSquared launched SkyTerra 1 in mid November, 2010. It uses the 1.6 GHz band. Harbinger’s 4G terrestrial network hopes to provide coverage in the United State to at least 100 million people by Dec. 30, 2012, at least 145 million people by Dec. 31, 2013, and at least 260 million people by Dec. 31, 2015.”

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Another Rumor: Lightsquared + Sprint?, Lightsquared + Sprint?, Charlie’s Big Play, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, Lightsquared: What GPS Interference?, Harbinger Sells Inmarsat Shares, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, T-Mobile: No Spectrum Deal…Yet, LightSquared: In Trouble?, Lightsquared Unfurled, MetroPCS Eyes TerreStar, Eutelsat Launches Ka Band Internet Satellite , O3B: Funded for Launch,

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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