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More Trouble for LightSquared: Layoffs Reported

Wed, 02/22/2012 - 7:26am
Maisie Ramsay

LightSquared is showing more signs of distress in the wake of the FCC's decision to block its wireless network.

One day after it missed a $56 million payment to Inmarsat, Reuters reported that LightSquared planned to lay off 45 percent of the 330 people it currently employs.

The job cuts are a "prudent and necessary cost savings measure to ensure the long-term success of the company," LightSquared told Reuters.

LightSquared could not be immediately reached to confirm the report.

LightSquared and its primary backer, Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, are scrambling to find a way to move forward after the FCC said last week it would pull the company's waiver for its LTE network and suspend its ability to add ground-based service to its satellite communications, effectively killing its plan for a wholesale mobile broadband network.

The FCC's verdict came after government tests showed the signals from LightSquared's base stations interfered with critical GPS receivers used by the military and aviation industries. The highly sensitive wideband receivers pick up on neighboring bands to fine-tune their coordinates, making them especially susceptible to noise from nearby transmissions.

LightSquared has pledged to move forward, but has not said how it plans to do so.

"We remain committed to finding a solution and believe that if all the parties have that same level of commitment, a solution can be found," LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said in a statement issued last week.

BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk told Wireless Week that LightSquared may try to swap its spectrum with the NTIA. Such an arrangement could be politically difficult, given the pressure to auction off spectrum to the highest bidder.

Some have speculated that LightSquared may sue the government over the issue. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Falcone had hired lawyers to investigate a possible lawsuit against the FCC.

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