LightSquared's mobile Internet plans get FCC boost
With a wave of new smartphones and tablet computers threatening to overwhelm wireless networks, the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to take another aggressive step to ease the growing capacity crunch.
On Wednesday, the agency is expected to grant a crucial waiver to Reston-based LightSquared that would pave the way for the firm to create a mobile network offering affordable broadband service based on satellite signals.
LightSquared, backed by billionaire Philip Falcone and his Harbinger Capital hedge fund, would be a rare new entrant to the U.S. wireless market, in which six out of 10 subscribers rely on broadband networks run by AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
FCC officials say they see LightSquared's proposal as a way to spur competition in the sector and have already granted an overall operating license to the firm.
"This is a promising opportunity to promote mobile broadband," said a FCC senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the waiver had not been formally approved. "LightSquared would be a new competitor and entrant into mobile broadband with new sources of capital and a new kind of business model that consumers find appealing."
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| January 26, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
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