LightSquared wins FCC OK for LTE-satellite network

The fledgling wholesale carrier will cooperate to prevent interference with GPS

LightSquared said Wednesday it has received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to build its planned satellite-LTE network for nationwide mobile service.

The company, which plans to launch its service commercially in the second half of this year, will offer both a satellite and a land-based LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. Working with Qualcomm, it also plans to make sure that single handsets to use both networks are available. With the satellite coverage included, LightSquared said it will offer universal broadband anywhere in the U.S.

The dual-mode strategy allowed LightSquared to earn a license from the FCC to operate the service under its Ancillary Terrestrial Component rule for integrated services. The company plans to run its network strictly on a wholesale basis, allowing other service providers such as mobile carriers and cable operators to resell access to the network. Because those third parties could offer either satellite or terrestrial service without the other mode, LightSquared needed a waiver from the FCC. LightSquared also had to address concerns about potential interference with GPS (Global Positioning System) devices.

On Wednesday, the FCC granted the waiver. In its order, the agency said LightSquared had agreed to work with the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the affected parties to prevent interference with GPS devices. The company also committed to making sure that dual-mode satellite-cellular datacards are on the market by the end of September 2011 and dual-mode handsets are available by the end of June 2012.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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