LightSquared Gets Another Reprieve, while Icahn Circles
LightSquared’s planned nationwide 4G broadband network got yet another reprieve from Sprint today. Last year, Sprint agreed to provide $15 billion to LightSquared for infrastructure needs, with one condition: LightSquared must obtain FCC approval by Dec. 31, 2011. The FCC didn’t come through–saying LightSquared has yet to prove its transmissions will not interfere with GPS signals–but last month Sprint extended its offer until the end of this month. And with barely 12 hours to spare, Sprint again extended this until mid-March. The question is if LightSquared can last that long; its cash reserves are reportedly dwindling, and according to one source the company is “flirting with bankruptcy.” In fact, Carl Icahn, a master of distressed company acquisitions, has picked up $300 million of heavily discounted LightSquared stock and aims to buy more. Adding to LightSquared’s woes, the federal Position, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT ExComm) said earlier this month that any LightSquared network in the L-Band would interfere with GPS. AIN sources now suggest that the FCC will soon decline LightSquared’s usage of the L-Band, though one Washington observer suspects the FCC will “discover” some unused spectrum far from GPS and swap it for LightSquared’s troubled frequencies.