So Harbinger finally launched its wireless juggernaut yesterday. The idea is to take a pile of spectrum previously assigned to satellite communications, and build a ‘truly open and net neutral wireless network’ based on LTE which will be wholesaled to other industry participants and change the rules of the game. It’s a grand vision of course, and one which will no doubt spur its share of interesting news over the next few years.
The company will be led by Sanjiv Ahuja, who led Orange Group from 2004-2007, with a team of industry veterans to back him up.
Nokia Siemens Networks has signed an 8 year agreement not just to provide gear backing the new network, but also to deploy, install, operate, and maintain it as well. That’s a nice contract, assuming the whole project achieves the necessary critical mass in the first place. LightSquared also announced another $1.75B in financing, to go with the $2.9B of assets already contributed by Harbinger. They’ll need more than that of course, but it’s a pretty good start.
Skeptics will of course point out that LightSquared is rather late to the game compared with clwr, and therefore will not have a first mover advantage. Likewise, they don’t start with big partners from the sector who are built-in wholesale customers down the line. No, they will have to take on Verizon and AT&T straight up using the same technology. It’s definitely a bold move by Harbinger’s Philip Falcone.
Will it work? As with any new entrant into the sector, they will have to prove it many times over. There will be opportunities for those in the sector offering equiment and backhaul services to get a piece of the action along the way, so they will have plenty of friends to counterbalance the enmity of the incumbents.
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