Cablevision Systems Corp. is in discussions with Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. about using the venture’s network to offer wireless services to its customers, according to a person familiar with the situation.
No deal has been reached, said the person, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private. LightSquared, backed by Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, is building a wireless network with so-called fourth-generation technology to compete with AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and Clearwire Corp.
Cablevision, based in Bethpage, New York, could use the network to offer expanded wireless capability to its Internet, television and telephone customers. Time Warner Cable Inc., Cablevision’s rival in the New York area, is also in talks with LightSquared, two people familiar with the matter said this week.
“The cable industry’s primary interest is preserving an independent wireless option and to try to do it in a very low-cost way,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York, who has a “market perform” rating on Cablevision shares. “It’s one more ripple in the pond in the wake of the T-Mobile-AT&T announcement. The cable operators are looking at an increasingly concentrated wireless industry, and they want to ensure they keep their options open.”
AT&T agreed on Mar. 20 to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for about $39 billion in cash and stock, which would combine the second- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless operators.
Leap, Best Buy
Jim Maiella, a Cablevision spokesman, and Audrey Schaefer, a spokeswoman for LightSquared, declined to comment.
LightSquared has also announced deals with retailer Best Buy Co. and pay-as-you-go mobile-phone carrier Leap Wireless International Inc. Falcone has committed billions to build out LightSquared’s network and plans to spend $14 billion over the next eight years, according to Chief Executive Officer Sanjiv Ahuja.
Cablevision shares fell 1 cent to $34.85 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading yesterday. The shares have gained 3 percent this year.