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LightSquared to Donate Satellite Phones, Service to IHS

Thu, 09/30/2010 - 8:34am
Maisie Ramsay

LightSquared is donating up to 2,000 satellite phones and service to Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal agency that serves the health needs of the country's American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

The national effort will start off with a pilot program at the IHS area office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that serves four hospitals, 11 health centers and 12 field clinics located in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. The satellite phones will improve connectivity in underserved communities.

"The lack of ubiquitous telephone connectivity, let alone broadband, for residents of these Tribal communities is highly regrettable," said LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja in a statement. "Our goal is to deliver the benefits of modern communications to people who have little or no access and bolster their ability to provide potentially lifesaving services to their fellow citizens."

LightSquared, which includes the satellite service assets of the former SkyTerra Communications, has a history of providing communications services in Native American Tribal communities. LightSquared currently provides equipment and services to Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement vehicles and to school buses operating on tribal lands in New Mexico and Arizona through its business partnerships.

LightSquared is currently working to finance and build an ambitious hybrid satellite-terrestrial LTE network across the United States. Wireless industry analyst Jeff Kagan said in a research note that the company's deal with the IHS could help put LightSquared on the map.

"They don't even have service launched in one city yet. Seeing how this works will help them begin to make a market for themselves," Kagan said.

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