LightSquared raises $265M more despite GPS worries

The startup still needs to prove its network won't interfere with GPS receivers

Mobile broadband startup LightSquared has raised another US$265 million that it can use for building its 4G LTE network, despite the uncertainty of that network being approved by the FCC.

The latest round of investments, announced on Tuesday, came from new and existing investors, LightSquared said. In the past 12 months, the company has raised more than $2.3 billion but faces an estimated cost of $14 billion to complete its planned hybrid satellite-cellular network.

That network's future is in question after a report last week that showed sometimes-devastating interference between LightSquared's LTE (Long-Term Evolution) base stations and GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers. The LTE system would use a radio spectrum band originally designed for satellites. As it filed that report to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, LightSquared also gave the agency its proposal to use different frequencies and lower transmission power for its LTE network.

The FCC has granted LightSquared a waiver that would allow it to operate the powerful LTE radios in satellite spectrum, but only on the condition that it ensures GPS is not impaired. The agency is seeking public comment on those filings until the end of this month and will ask for responses to those until the middle of August. However, LightSquared plans to start building the LTE network even before the FCC has approved operating it.

In a statement, LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja called the investments an endorsement of the company's business model. LightSquared plans to only sell access to its network wholesale to other carriers, who would resell services based on it. Electronics retailer Best Buy and Leap Wireless, operator of the Cricket mobile brand, are among the partners signed up to use the network. Sprint Nextel may also partner with LightSquared, according to news reports.

Tags business issuessatellitetelecommunication4gLightSquaredinvestmentsmobile

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service

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