LightSquared, bankrupt, still aims to launch wireless network

LightSquared has filed for bankruptcy protection, saying that will give it more time to win regulatory approval. Regulators have blocked LightSquared's plans, saying they could interfere with GPS signals.  

Scott Audette/Reuters/File
Sanjiv Ahuja, then chairman and CEO of LightSquared, delivers a keynote address at the International CTIA wireless industry conference in Orlando, Fla., last year. LightSquared filed for bankruptcy on Monday, saying it still hoped to deploy its controversial wireless network.

LightSquared Inc., which hoped to create an independent wireless broadband network in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

Regulators blocked its plan this winter because of concerns that its transmissions would interfere with GPS navigation.

LightSquared hasn't given up. Chief Financial Officer Marc Montagner said in a statement that the bankruptcy filing is intended to gain the company "breathing room" while it continues to work through its regulatory issues.

It has said that it has invested more than $4 billion in the network. LightSquared listed assets and liabilities of more than $1 billion each in the filing Monday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The company, which is based in Reston, Virginia, is owned by Harbinger Capital Partners, a private-equity firm that made billions betting against subprime mortgages ahead of the collapse of the housing market.

Harbinger bought SkyTerra, a provider of satellite communications services to businesses, in 2010. It then lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to use the spectrum set aside for SkyTerra for ground-based communications — essentially, a conventional wireless broadband network, rather than a satellite-based one.

But SkyTerra's licenses were for spectrum adjacent to a band used by GPS satellites. On the ground, GPS units had no problem filtering out transmissions from SkyTerra's satellites, but regulators determined that they could be disrupted by strong, ground-based signals.

LightSquared's CEO, telecom veteran Sanjiv Ahuja, resigned in February.

The company's largest creditors are Boeing Satellite Systems Inc., owed $7.5 million, and telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent, owed $7.3 million, according to the filing.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.