Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel Corp. has given network-building partner LightSquared an added six weeks to win government approval to light up its spectrum.
The extension from the end of January to mid-March, confirmed by Sprint late Tuesday, follows an earlier delay Sprint granted the wireless company.
LightSquared represents potentially billions in revenue for Sprint. Yet it is locked in a bruising regulatory battle with the global positioning system industry, which contends the fledgling company’s signals would jam GPS receivers.
Meantime, regulators at the Federal Communications Commission, which earlier gave LightSquared a provisional OK, await a recommendation from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The NTIA’s advice is seen as pivotal in steering the FCC’s ruling.
Months of tests have been conducted to determine if LightSquared can operate in the radio spectrum that borders the transmissions used by GPS devices. The results have been controversial. The GPS industry, including Olathe-headquartered Garmin Ltd., contends tests have shown inevitable jamming of the world’s more precise navigation devices. LightSquared has contended the tests were flawed, and don’t reasonably account for its plans to operate at lower power in some areas and to keep its transmissions in a narrow section of the spectrum it’s been allotted.
Months ago, Sprint set aside its work for hosting some transmitters planned for LightSquared’s land-based service. LightSquared ultimately hopes to offer wireless phone and data services that combine cell towers with its already launched satellite for nearly ubiquitous coverage in the U.S.
The agreement between Sprint and LightSquared is contingent on LightSquared raising money. That, in turn, is reliant on winning regulatory approval. It’s tentative approval for working in a radio spectrum that had long been set aside for satellite phones — a lightly used radio frequency because one company after the next has failed at such business — is under review by the FCC.