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LightSquared lands $265M as FCC decision looms

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 8:10am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

LightSquared's investors are pouring an additional $265 million into the company amid increased uncertainty about whether the FCC will allow the company to move ahead with its LTE network.

LightSquared must prove to the FCC that it has fixed its network's detrimental effect on GPS service before it can launch its wholesale mobile broadband service. The FCC could block LightSquared if it decides that a plan recently filed by the company doesn't adequately protect GPS service.

The latest funding came from "both existing investors, as well as new investors in the company," but LightSquared did not specify which companies participated in the round. The money will go toward "general corporate purposes," including the construction of its LTE network.

Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared's CEO, said that the funding was a vote of confidence in the company from its investors.

"This latest round of financing signals another endorsement by the financial markets of our business model and LightSquared's intent to use private capital to build out a new network to meet the growing demand across this entire nation for wireless broadband access," he said.

LightSquared has raised $2.3 billion in venture capital and debt and equity financing over the past year.

The company's struggle to address the GPS interference issue has prompted it to abandon its own spectrum for bandwidth held by Inmarsat, located farther away from GPS bands. LightSquared filed its revised plan with the FCC last week in conjunction with a report that found its network would cause widespread interference to GPS if allowed to go live in its own spectrum bands, located immediately adjacent to bandwidth used by GPS.

Final comments on LightSquared's latest proposal are due Aug. 15, and the FCC's decision could come later that month.

Government officials testifying at a June 23 congressional hearing said more testing needed to be done to ensure LightSquared's new plan will protect GPS systems, as the company claims. LightSquared says its new plan will protect more than 99 percent of GPS receivers on the market, but some high-precision receivers will still be affected.

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