US operator Sprint has ended its spectrum hosting agreement with proposed LTE wholesale network LightSquared. The 11-year agreement would have seen Sprint deploy and operate an LTE network using spectrum in the 1600Mhz band licensed or available to LightSquared.
Since the agreement was signed in June 2011, LightSquared has been beset with problems, including government-commissioned tests that found its LTE network would interfere with critical GPS services, and culminating in the Federal Communications Commission withdrawing its support for the network.
The agreement included contingencies connected to potential interference issues with LightSquared’s spectrum, meaning Sprint could walk away from the agreement if certain conditions were not met. Sprint had twice extended its deadline for LightSquared to meet its requirements but it was reported earlier this month that its patience had run out and it would not extend the deadline further beyond 15 March and was preparing to exit the deal.
Sprint said in a statement that it continues to be supportive of LightSquared’s business plans and appreciates its efforts to resolve the interference issue – but elected to end the agreement due to “these unresolved issues.”
“We remain open to considering future spectrum hosting agreements with LightSquared, should they resolve these interference issues, as well as other interested spectrum holders,” Sprint added. The company will return US$65 million to LightSquared which was paid in advance to cover the costs of the network.
LightSquared appears determined to fight on, however, saying that it “remains committed to moving forward with its nationwide network build out.” It added that the end of the contract with Sprint “was not unexpected” and is in the best interests of both parties.