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Falcone Wireless Venture Said to Consider AT&T Capacity Deal

Harbinger Capital Partners' Philip A. Falcone
Philip A. Falcone, senior managing director of Harbinger Capital Partners. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg

Billionaire Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. mobile-phone venture is considering a deal with AT&T Inc. to buy network capacity from the carrier, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The initiative is preliminary and may not result in a deal, said the people, who declined to be identified because the plan isn’t public.

Under an agreement, LightSquared would pay to use AT&T’s so-called fourth-generation network when it needs additional capacity, the people said. AT&T is building a 4G network and plans to introduce it this year in its hometown of Dallas as well as Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio.

LightSquared, based in Reston, Virginia, said in March that it reached a roaming agreement with Leap Wireless International Inc. that would allow the San Diego-based pay-as-you-go carrier to access Falcone’s network as it builds out an LTE network in the coming years.

LightSquared, backed by Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, proposes serving 260 million mobile devices over a network of 36,000 terrestrial towers, using airwaves once reserved primarily for satellite signals.

The company will have to resolve concerns that its network may interfere with global-positioning systems. At the request of the Federal Communications Commission, it’s participating in a working group to study the issue and will submit findings on June 15.

Audrey Schaefer, a spokeswoman for LightSquared, and Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, declined to comment.

AT&T, the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, lost 39 cents to $31.17 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 6.1 percent this year.

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