by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 10:13 PM MST
LightSquared has now been in the tech news headlines for two days in a row. Yesterday, it was announced that the FCC is opening up a public comment period for the LightSquared Terrestrial LTE network and today it was announced that Sprint extended LightSquared’s deadline by another 45 days. Both are seen as good news for the beleaguered would-be 4G LTE network wholesaler.
Dan Hesse has ordered a 45 day stay of execution for LightSquared Agreement
Sprint’s original deadline with LightSquared was for them to get FCC approval to run a terrestrial LTE network that runs on satellite L band frequencies no later than December 31, 2011. However, when LightSquared could not meet the deadline, Sprint agreed to extend the deadline to January 31, 2012.
As the clock on the previous extension neared expiration today, Sprint has now announced another 45-day extension for LightSquared to get FCC approval. The new deadline is March 15, 2012. Although, there is not much harm in Sprint extending the deadlines for LightSquared. Sprint previously announced that they put the LightSquared LTE integration into Network Vision on hold. Sprint’s Network Vision and their own LTE deployment is proceeding without LightSquared at this point.
Since Sprint would have to restart a LightSquared integration program in the future should the FCC finally give approval, it doesn’t really much matter whether the FCC approves on March 14th, April 22nd or May 31st. It, of course, would matter a lot to LightSquared when the approval comes, though. LightSquared is steadily bleeding its remaining funds and is in a difficult position that it will likely not be able to raise new funding until the FCC grants the approval it desperately seeks.
Why wouldn’t Sprint extend it, again?
The only reason why Sprint would not offer further extensions to LightSquared is because they either have a new partner to host with (possibly Dish Network?), or they think they can renegotiate an even better deal in the future should LightSquared finally get FCC approval and raise the appropriate funding. This is a risky proposition though, because LightSquared may start to negotiate with a new partner and leave Sprint out in the cold.
LightSquared is a potential cash cow for Sprint, and a place for additional LTE network capacity. And now given that LightSquared will now need to be integrated after Network Vision is half or nearly completely deployed, why not keep extending LightSquared indefinitely? Sprint stands to make a lot of money hosting LightSquared’s network. If the FCC ever comes around, just wipe the dust off the plans and get down to business. That is, should LightSquared ever survive long enough to get FCC approval.
FCC Opens up Public Comment Period on LightSquared Terrestrial LTE Network
In one of the few pieces of good news that LightSquared has received in the past few months, the FCC has moved forward with a Public Comment period. The public comment period will be open until February 27th, with follow up responses due by March 13th.
The public comments are not likely to produce any positive points for LightSquared directly. However, it will run the clock out farther and gives LightSquared more time and opportunity to work to solve the problems and persuade more folks about their proposed solutions.
LightSquared continues to battle the GPS industry and connected politicians for its survival on all fronts. If it can get the approvals and negate the GPS interference concerns, LightSquared’s wholesale LTE network is seen as a very critical piece in keeping mobile broadband competitive for consumers. A LightSquared LTE network allows smaller national and regional carriers the ability to have a nationwide LTE network for their customers to roam on. Giving these smaller wireless carriers a better opportunity to compete with the Big Two.