LightSquared's Ahuja resigns as CEO

The company says it's looking for a replacement and still hopes to build its LTE network

LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned his CEO post, in the latest change to rock the company that still says it wants to build a 4G network using frequencies next to the GPS spectrum band.

Chief Network Officer Doug Smith and Chief Financial Officer Marc Montagner will serve as interim co-CEOs while the company searches for a permanent replacement, the company said on Tuesday. Ahuja will remain chairman of the board. Meanwhile, Philip Falcone, CEO of parent company Harbinger Capital Partners, has joined the board.

LightSquared reiterated its plan to build an LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network using spectrum adjacent to the GPS band, despite findings of interference between the two systems that led regulators to effectively shut down the company's plans. On Feb. 14, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it planned to indefinitely suspend the company's right to build a cellular network.

Ahuja, the former CEO of French mobile network operator Orange, joined LightSquared in 2010. Smith came to the company from WiMax mobile operator Clearwire. Montagner is a former Sprint Nextel executive who engineered Sprint's merger with Nextel in 2004.

Falcone said LightSquared will work with the appropriate entities to resolve its regulatory issues and is taking "an aggressive approach" to its finances to ensure the company can continue to operate. Executives have said repeatedly that LightSquared has enough capital to continue operating for several quarters, but the company reportedly has recently laid off 45 percent of its workforce.

LightSquared operates a satellite mobile broadband company and hopes to build a national LTE network, offering coverage throughout the U.S. with higher LTE speeds in populated areas. It would sell service on both of those networks at wholesale to other carriers, who could offer either or both types of service to consumers. However, the prospects for that business model have dimmed since the FCC's decision in the wake of tests showing interference between the LTE network and GPS.

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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