Sprint Signs Deal With Lightsquared, Despite Failing GPS Tests

Sprint (NYSE: S) and LightSquared have agreed to jointly develop and operate LightSquared’s 4G LTE network. The deal is expected to give Sprint an edge in competing with AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

LightSquared executives are scrambling to find a solution for its network, after its spectrum has been shown to interfere with the global positioning system (GPS). The company asked the FCC for an extension on the mandatory GPS system tests. Members of the GPS Coalition called Save Our GPS were outraged the the FCC gave LightSquared an extension after initially failing the GPS system interference tests.

Sprint’s deal with LightSquared is an indication that nothing bad is in the near future for LightSquared’s plans to develop their network. Many people are speculating that Sprint has agreed to  absorb some of the costs to build out the LightSquared network and as a result it will get privileged rates to become the network’s largest LTE wholesale customer.

The deal was announced in a letter from Billionaire Philip Falcone to investors. LightSquared is contributing $14 billion in private investment over the next eight years to build a nationwide wireless broadband network using 4G-LTE technology integrated with satellite coverage.

US reports are estimating the value of the 15 year Sprint-LightSquared deal is $20 billion. This means that discussions with Clearwire have foundered and although it will continue to use the Clearwire network for now, eventually Sprint will go purely to LightSquared for LTE.

Clearly, even if LightSquared begins a build out with only some of its spectrum, leaving a larger buffer between its L-Band spectrum and the higher of the two L-Band GPS signals in the very adjacent 1.57 GHz, it will still have to prove that the new configuration does not interfere with GPS signals.