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Sprint partner LightSquared to cut 45 percent of its jobs

Bloomberg News

Billionaire Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. wireless venture is cutting 45 percent of its jobs, about 150 positions, to preserve cash after U.S. regulators rejected its plan to start operating.

Most of the affected employees are those hired in preparation for its high-speed wireless network expansion, LightSquared said Wednesday. The company has 330 workers in total.

LightSquared said it was seeking to reduce costs while it works to resolve the regulatory objections. The Federal Communications Commission said last week that it won’t let LightSquared begin service after an Obama administration adviser found that it disrupts navigation gear used by planes, boats and autos.

Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund has invested $3 billion in closely held LightSquared, which seeks to compete against AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless to offer service that lets users browse the Web at higher speeds.

This week, LightSquared skipped a $56.3 million payment to its partner Inmarsat Plc, a British satellite operator, saying unspecified obligations weren’t met.

Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel Corp. had hoped that a deal it made with LightSquared last summer would give Sprint access to enough high-speed capacity to cover its LTE traffic through 2015. LightSquared also was going to pay Sprint $9 billion to pay Sprint to host its LTE service.

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