LightSquared CEO Resigns Amid GPS Interference Controversy

Sanjiv Ahuja

LightSquared announced today (February 28, 2012) that Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned his position as chief executive officer of LightSquared, Inc. He will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Ahuja’s resignation is the latest development in the company’s attempt to establish a nationwide terrestrial wireless broadband network in spectrum adjacent to that used by GPS and other GNSS L1 services. No explanation was given for his departure.

LightSquared announced today (February 28, 2012) that Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned his position as chief executive officer of LightSquared, Inc. He will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Ahuja’s resignation is the latest development in the company’s attempt to establish a nationwide terrestrial wireless broadband network in spectrum adjacent to that used by GPS and other GNSS L1 services. No explanation was given for his departure.

Tests conducted over the past year have shown widespread interference to GPS receivers and the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) has moved to vacate its conditional waiver order permitting rollout of LightSquared’s network and “suspend indefinitely” LightSquared’s ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) authority.

In a press release, the company said that it will name Doug Smith, currently chief network officer, and Marc Montagner, currently chief financial officer, as interim co-chief operating officers, while the company completes the search for a new CEO. LightSquared says it expects to name a new CEO soon. In addition, Philip Falcone, CEO and CIO of Harbinger Capital Partners, has been appointed to the company’s board of directors.

“Sanjiv has shown great leadership in bringing the LightSquared vision to this point, including leveraging his experience in the telecom industry to sign dozens of critical partnerships across the country,” said Falcone. “As the company takes the next step forward, we continue to be excited about the prospects and look forward to working with new leadership to accomplish our goal of building and operating an innovative, competitive wireless network.”

Falcone added, “We are, furthermore, committed to working with the appropriate entities to find a solution to the recent regulatory issues. We, of course, agree that it is critical to ensure that national security, aviation, and the GPS communities are protected. I am confident that working together, we can solve this problem and bring the American consumer the lower priced 4G wireless alternative they need and deserve.”

Falcone noted that the company is also taking an aggressive approach to its finances to ensure that it has adequate financial runway while it works through these issues.

“During my tenure at LightSquared, we all worked tirelessly to create the nation’s first open wireless broadband network and provide consumers with a new wireless broadband experience,” Ahuja said. “That work continues and I wish the company and its fine management team well as they work to achieve this important goal.”

Ahuja’s resignation came shortly after news reports last week that the company will cut 45 percent of its 330-employee workforce and missed a scheduled $56 million payment owed to its British satellite partner Inmarsat.

As chief network officer, Smith is responsible for LightSquared’s network design, deployment and operations. Previously, he held a number of leadership positions at Clearwire and Sprint Nextel, managing technical, engineering and network operations.

As the company’s CFO, Montagner is responsible for the company’s daily financial operations and oversees investor and bondholder relations. He has nearly 25 years of experience in financial and corporate development for the wireless communications sector, including working for such companies as France Telecom, Morgan Stanley, Sprint Nextel and Banc of America Securities, the investment banking arm of Bank of America.

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