LightSquared Seeks Quick Approval From FCC

Dec 21 2011 | 3:10am ET

A bruised and bloodied LightSquared isn't giving up the fight just yet. The Harbinger Capital Partners-backed wireless Internet venture yesterday pressed the Federal Communications Commission to affirm its licenses and give it the approvals it needs, despite opposition from the global positioning system community.

LightSquared is facing a deadline at the end of the year: If it does not win FCC approval, it could imperil its biggest deal, a $13.5 billion agreement with Sprint Nextel. Internal LightSquared documents show that the company is running out of cash, and specifically mention Sprint as a necessary source of revenue.

But LightSquared has been buffeted in recent weeks by a leaked government test that shows its network interferes with 75% of GPS receivers and by a Securities and Exchange Commission fraud investigation into Harbinger, which has invested about $3 billion in the company.

Despite the upcoming deadline, LightSquared is not sanguine about the prospects of an approval before 2012. That may not sink its Sprint deal; the two sides can extend the deadline. But a Sprint spokesman did not sound especially hopeful.

"Both Sprint and LightSquared are pulling back on expenses and will stop new deployment design and implementation for LightSquared on the Sprint network," Bill White told The Wall Street Journal.

In its filing, Reston, Va.-based LightSquared blasted the GPS industry for failing to prepare for the opening of their frequencies to other users.

"It recently has become apparent that the commercial GPS industry has manufactured, and sold to unsuspecting customers, unlicensed and poorly-designed GPS receivers," LightSquared wrote. It asked the FCC to find that it has no obligation to pay for retrofits to GPS devices that could minimize interference issues.


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