Aspirational network operator LightSquared has promised to replace customers' Push To Talk kit for free as it migrates them from a bankrupt satellite to one owned by the marginally-insane wannabe national network.
LightSquared says it will support the existing Push To Talk kit, which uses the TerreStar 1 satellite, until at least 2014. Before then the company will replace all the customer kit "at no cost", with devices using its new bird, SkyTerra 1, to ensure continuity of service. But the magnanimous offer has more to do with maintaining credibility, while the primary business plan remains as mad as a box of frogs.
Announcing the news, LightSquared makes much of its contribution to public safety, wheeling out Bob Spieldenner, of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, to attest that "LightSquared's investment in Push-to-Talk will literally help save lives in coming years". But those emergency responders are also LightSquared's only customers, and lend the company important credibility as it pursues its plan to change the cellular industry.
LightSquared inherited the customers from TerreStar, which recently went bankrupt and whose flying satellite is the object of an even-madder-than-LightSquared plan to provide broadband to Africa. But LightSquared always intended to get customers off TerreStar 1 and onto its own bird, and down into the 1.6GHz spectrum where it intended to deploy its national LTE network (GPS interference issues permitting).
GPS kit keeps picking up LightSquared's transmissions, and LightSquared hasn't the money to build the network anyway, so serving real customers provides some of the credibility that the company desperately needs. ®
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