LightSquared, the upstart wireless broadband company, has raised $265 million in addition to the nearly $3 billion that hedge fund titan Phil Falcone has poured into the venture. But the project’s fate remains cloudy amid fierce resistance from the GPS industry, after LightSquared’s network was found to interfere with satellite transmissions.
LightSquared aims use its substantial wireless spectrum assets to build out a nationwide 4G network, and then sell access on the wholesale market. Last month, in a boost for Falcon’s wireless ambitions, LightSquared struck a $15 billion deal with Sprint (NYSE: S) to jointly develop the network, Bloomberg reported. But many analysts believe the company will have to raise billions more to complete the project.
Falcone, whose hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners made billions betting against sub-prime mortgages, has already invested $3 billion in the company, a stake which represents about half the value of the fund’s assets. Last October, LightSquared closed an $850 million debt financing round.
A LightSquared spokesman said the $265 million investment, announced Tuesday, came from “new and existing” investors, but declined to provide details or to confirm whether Falcone took part.
LightSquared says the new funding takes it to more than $2.3 billion so far just this year. It is using the funds to build out its network with the goal of providing 4G coverage for 260 million people by 2016. The company says it started with $3 billion in assets, which include SkyTerra and some other spectrum holdings.
LightSquared faces intense opposition from the GPS industry, after a report found that the network interferes with some satellite communications. The company has vowed to address the problems, but the GPS industry isn’t buying it.
“There is no existing technology that solves this interference, only unproven claims of hypothetical future fixes,” Jim Kirkland, vice president of GPS firm Trimble, told The Washington Post.