LightSquared puts satellite in orbit for hybrid satellite/LTE 4G network

SkyTerra 1, the communications satellite that will be a part of LightSquared's hybrid satellite/terrestrial mobile network, successfully launched into orbit yesterday afternoon, LightSquared announced this morning.

The satellite launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:30 yesterday afternoon, and established its first connection with ground-based communications approximately nine hours later.

"Today, LightSquared has achieved a major milestone in the realization of our mission to revolutionize the wireless industry in the United States," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and CEO of LightSquared. "LightSquared is launching the world's first truly integrated satellite-terrestrial network, combining our 4G-LTE terrestrial network with ubiquitous satellite coverage that will connect rural America and support emergency communications."

Long Term Evolution (LTE), the next-gen mobile broadband technology capable of peak network data rates of 100Mbps, has already been officially launched in the U.S. with MetroPCS' first deployment in Las Vegas. In 2011, both Verizon Wireless and AT&T are expected to launch their own LTE networks.

But LTE is not going to immediately take care of all of our wireless data demands, and these networks will be integrated into the carriers' current infrastructure. Last week, Infonetics Research analyst Stephane Teral said that LTE is not going to "cover everything at once," and that once these networks are launched, there will still be reliance upon legacy data networks for fleshing out coverage. More than 40% of those network operators committed to LTE said they will continue to invest in more functionality and coverage for their current networks after LTE debuts.

Since LightSquared is constructing a totally new network, it is using this satellite component to flesh out the wireless coverage for the times when subscribers are out of terrestrial LTE range. By 2015, the company expects to have 92% of the total US population covered by its network, LTE and Satellite.

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