Partners Lining Up For LightSquared

March 24th, 2011 by · 3 Comments

They may not actually have a wholesale LTE network in place yet and the AT&T/T-Mobile deal surely didn’t help its cause much, but LightSquared has been making progress lately nonetheless.  On Monday, Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP, news, filings) signed on for LTE roaming, and yesterday it was the consumer electronics retailier Best Buy throwing its weight behind their wholesale plan.  Earlier this month, rural service provider OpenRange signed up, and MetroPCS was also making positive noises toward them too.

All this for a company that to date has a satellite, a pile of spectrum, and the funding to build out part way.  The plan is to cover 100M people by 2012, and eventually 260M by 2015.  Time to get cracking on that buildout I’d say.  Only then will we really get a feeling for just how likely they are to succeed at their mission.

The fact that T-Mobile USA is now probably out of the picture does seem to take some of their sales.  On the other hand, if the AT&T/T-Mobile deal runs into regulatory trouble and doesn’t happen come next year this time, T-Mobile USA could find itself in greater need of a wholesale LTE partner than it is now.  If only there were some way to bridge the LTE/WiMAX gap with Clearwire, because the satellite angle married with Clearwire’s buildout plus the money LightSquared hasn’t spent yet would add up to something very interesting.

The wildcard for now though for LightSquared is the GPS interference concerns still making the rounds at the FCC.  I can’t tell how real those concerns really are, anybody?

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