LightSquared Catching MSOs’ Eyes4/04/2011 12:01 AM Eastern
The number of cable companies
investigating fledgling high-speed wireless
network LightSquared is apparently growing,
casting some doubt on a broadbandwireless
partnership struck by a handful of
MSOs just three years ago.
According to reports, Time Warner Cable
and Cablevision Systems were considering
signing on to LightSquared, the broadbandwireless
network spearheaded by Harbinger
Capital Partners head Philip Falcone, last week.
LightSquared has pledged to build a hybrid
broadband network, using satellites and
terrestrial lines to reach as many as 260 million
homes by the end of 2016.
LightSquared plans to start launching its
LTE-based network in the second half of this
year and has said it will be available in about
100 million homes by the end of 2012.
Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems
declined to comment. LightSquared spokeswoman
Audrey Fix Schaefer said the company
does not comment on speculation.
The notion that Time Warner Cable would
look at another high-speed wireless carrier is
casting some doubt on Clearwire, which already
is available in about 119 million homes.
Clearwire launched its WiMax network in
2009 and was backed
with equity funding
from Time Warner
Cable, Bright House
Google, Intel and
Sprint Nextel. The
group pumped about
$3.2 billion into Clearwire
in 2008 to help
Since its launch,
Clearwire has run
into funding trouble.
Last year, it warned it
could run out of money
by mid-2011 before
it raised about $1.33
billion in a December
Several key executives have also left Clearwire
over the past few months. CEO Bill Morrow
resigned on March 10, along with its chief
information officer and chief commercial officer, adding to the pressure. A search for permanent
replacements is ongoing.
Cablevision has been aggressive in the wireless
space. It built its own Wi-Fi network in metropolitan
New York — at about $300 million
— making wireless broadband available to existing
customers at no additional charge. It also
has been investigating offering its own wireless
service and last year tested phones that switch
between the cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
Miller Tabak media analyst David Joyce
said that if the two cable operators are talking
to LightSquared, it is mostly to make sure all
of their technology bases are covered. Light-
Squared might need at least four years before
its LTE network is fully built.
Wunderlich Securities media analyst Matt
Harrigan said Time Warner Cable has been
fairly clear that it would not invest further in
Clearwire. LightSquared could be a low-cost
way for Cablevision to ensure it has the latest
technology, he said.
LIGHTS ON AT LIGHTSQUARED
LightSquared plans to launch a hybrid satellite fiber
broadband network in the second half of the year:
Proposed Deployment: 100 million homes by 2012
145 million homes by 2013
260 million homes by 2016
Devices: LightSquared enabled devices including data cards, embedded
modules, personal hotspots and routers will launch during the second half
of 2011. By 2012, service will expand to include Smartphones and other
next generation devices.
Speed: LTE technology has a maximum data rate of over 100 Megabits per
Network: LightSquared reached an eight-year, $7 billion agreement in
2010 for Nokia Siemens Networks to deploy, install, operate and maintain
the LightSquared nationwide network, consisting of about 40,000 cellular
base stations, covering 92% of the U.S. population by 2015.