Best Buy to resell LightSquared 4G service

The companies plan to start trials in the first quarter of next year

Satellite-LTE startup LightSquared has made a deal for national electronics retailer Best Buy to resell its service, LightSquared CEO and Chairman Sanjiv Ahuja said on Wednesday at the CTIA Wireless trade show.

The companies will begin trials in the first quarter of next year, Ahuja said. The deal appears to be the biggest yet for LightSquared, which plans to operate entirely as a wholesale provider of network services. On Tuesday, the company announced a resale and roaming partnership with Leap Wireless, provider of the Cricket mobile service.

LightSquared already has satellites in place and plans to build a terrestrial LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network with coverage complemented by the satellite service. Its customers will be able to resell either or both services. Ahuja did not specify which types of service Best Buy would offer.

The bold vision of a wholesale-only national carrier with two types of infrastructure faces both regulatory and competitive challenges. After warnings by GPS (Global Positioning System) vendors that LightSquared's LTE network will interfere with the GPS system, the company had to launch a series of tests along with the GPS vendors that are due to conclude in June. Meanwhile, analysts believe consolidation of carriers, such as AT&T's planned buyout of T-Mobile USA, will hurt LightSquared's prospects by reducing the number of potential resellers for its wholesale service.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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