US round-up: LightSquared agrees USD3bn restructuring plan; Verizon plots pre-paid LTE; VTel expands 4G footprint

4 Jul 2014

LightSquared, the bankrupt wireless start-up controlled by Philip Falcone’s hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, has tentatively agreed to a new USD3.05 billion restructuring plan that would cede 74% ownership to JPMorgan Chase, Fortress Investment Group and Cerberus Capital Management. According to Bloomberg, Harbinger will retain a 12.5% stake in the company, although the deal will only go ahead if LightSquared exits bankruptcy on or before 30 September. The new investors are expected to inject USD1.75 billion, with Cerberus, Fortress and JP Morgan contributing the bulk of the funding, while another USD1.3 billion will be raised through the debt markets.

Verizon Wireless is set to introduce 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) data access for its pre-paid customers for the first time on 17 July, according to an unverified report from Droid Life. To date Verizon limits its pre-paid customers to its CDMA-based 3G network.

Rural operator Vermont Telephone (VTel) has expanded its LTE coverage across portions of its home state. As of 1 July, the expansion saw VTel increase its coverage to more than 20,000 underserved homes and businesses in 24 rural towns. The company’s 4G rollout forms part of a USD92 million grant VTel received in 2010 from the Rural Utilities Service to expand telecoms services across Vermont. The company said it plans to cover 96% of the state’s population by the end of 2015. Going forward, VTel expects to introduce voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) functionality in late-2014-early-2015, ‘as soon as VoLTE handsets become widely commercially available’.