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Bold Wireless Broadband Plan Could Cover 90% of U.S. by 2015

Private equity firm signs $7 billion deal with Nokia Siemens for high-speed wireless, creating competition against phone companies.

U.S. customers long frustrated by the limited number of wireless service providers will soon see a rapid increase in options as a result of a bold new plan to launch a high-speed wireless broadband network that would cover more than 90% of the country in the next five years.

Private-equity firm Harbinger Capital Partners unveiled details for its broadband network, "Lightsquared," which will run from coast-to-coast and offer connectivity to a broad range of industries, including wireless providers, cable operators and device makers.

The system will be deployed, operated and maintained by Nokia Siemens Networks, who signed a $7 billion agreement with Harbinger. The wireless broadband service will initially be launched in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver and Baltimore in the second half of 2011, before being deployed nationwide.

Lightsquared will be created as a fourth-generation wireless network, supplemented by satellite coverage a key technological advantage, said new company chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja.

"By using satellite coverage, we can ensure constant connectivity, even if the terrestrial network is not available," said Ahuja.

The venture is bound to increase competition in the area of 4G service something Sprint, AT&T and Verizon will be each offering by the time Lightsquared hits nationally.

Harbinger and Nokia Siemens see an opportunity to widen the competitive plane and expand broadband service to rural areas that are difficult to reach with traditional technology.

"We're providing everyone, including under-served communities, with a fast, reliable experience regardless of where they are located in the United States," Ahuja said. "This network will return our country to its rightful position as a leader in wireless broadband technology."

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