On February 10 2011 President Obama announced the National Wireless Initiative in support of the National Broadband Plan. The National Wireless Initiative calls for private-public partnerships for building wireless infrastructure. Under the plan the federal government contributes $5 billion to an FCC Universal Service fund whose mandate is to subsidize building wireless infrastructure in rural and other remote areas where wireless providers would otherwise not have provided service as a result of poor prospects for profitability. LightSquared and Open Range announced on March 11 that they entered into an agreement that establishes a strategic partnership in support of the initiative.
The LightSquared and Open Range partnership allows Open Range to sell LightSquared’s network capacity to provide wireless communications services to un-served and underserved communities across America. LightSquared’s combination of satellite and terrestrial services (Ancillary Terrestrial Component, or ATC) provides the best means of offering “meaningful ubiquitous nationwide rural broadband and meet President Obama’s goals,” said Open Range Chief Executive Officer and founder Bill Beans.
LightSquared’s chairman and chief executive Sanjiv Ahuja described that the partnership with Open Range allows LightSquared to offer a seamless and expanded nationwide 4G-LTE network offering to all of their retail partners and customers. Mr. Ahuja said that LightSquared’s planned commercial service could result in billions of dollars in investments, created tens of thousands of jobs across North America, and introduce a new wireless competitor into the wireless marketplace.
High-speed wireless provides economic opportunities to everyone in America, including those in rural communities so that they would not have to move out of their home town to reap the benefits of new opportunities across the nation. People in urban areas benefit from more affordable high speed wireless access, as compared to the fees that people in rural un-serviced and under-serviced pay each month for the same type of service.
LightSquared offers a 4G-LTE wireless broadband network through satellite coverage and roaming partnerships. LightSquared works with data cards, embedded modules, personal hotspots and routers and will offer support for smart phones and other next generation devices by 2012. The LightSquared network offers a maximum data rate of over 100 MB per second, providing immediate communications with faster upload and download speeds. The LightSquared network ensures constant connectivity using a combination of terrestrial and satellite technologies; a Boeing-built satellite that was launched in November 2010 into a geostationary orbit over North America powers the satellite network.
Open Range provides WiMAX-based wireless broadband services to over 540 US communities. WiMAX offers long range network connectivity of up to 40 Mbits per second (approximately 5 MB per second) and offers voice and data services for consumers through its Freedom 4G modem. Open range is headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado and is funded by both public and private funds. Public finding is based on the largest Broadband Access Loan given by the USDA and private funding is based on an investment from the private equity arm of JP Morgan Chase and Co.