LightSquared and Deere & Co. have settled a long-running legal fight over whether the wireless venture's Global Positioning System network interfered with global receivers made by the farm equipment manufacturer.
The new LightSquared, which emerged from bankruptcy Monday after 3.5 years under court protection, says the compromise with Deere sets the parameters on how the GPS and broadband industries can divvy up the spectrum, the limited pockets of airwaves that mobile phone and Internet companies use.
"This is a big step forward for us, and we believe this agreement sets the framework that enables GPS and broadband to peacefully coexist," said Doug Smith, LightSquared's chief executive.
In 2013, Phil Falcone's Harbinger Capital, the hedge fund which then controlled LightSquared, sued Deere and two other GPS companies --- Garrmin Ltd. and Trimble Navigation Ltd. --- along with industry groups in federal court claiming their equipment interfered with the LightSquared network.
Under its deal with Deere, LightSquared has agreed to forgo a portion of its spectrum nearest to the GPS signal and instead will use frequencies that are farther away from the GPS signal. In return, Deere said it won't object to LightSquared's deployment of its wireless broadband network.
Resolving its lingering disputes with the GPS industry is key for the new LightSquared, free from bankruptcy and under new management, to roll out its plan for low-cost mobile wireless services to hundreds of millions of Americans.
Trimble and Garmin, the two other GPS equipment makers sued by LightSquared, aren't part of the Deere settlement. However, talks continue and Smith said the Deere settlement provides a framework for peace with the GPS industry.
Representatives for Deere, Trimble and Garmin couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Harbinger, formerly LightSquared's biggest backer, also sued the U.S. government over the Federal Communications Commission's decision to stop LightSquared from deploying its network. That decision cost the hedge fund about $2 billion and resulted in LightSquared's bankruptcy.
As part of LightSquared's exit from bankruptcy, the company's new leadership — Smith, along with former Verizon Communications Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg and ex-FCC Chairman Reed Hundt — control the litigation rights against both the GPS industry and the U.S. government.
LightSquared filed for chapter 11 protection in May 2012, shortly after federal regulators refused to clear LightSquared's plans to launch its wireless network. Those regulators heeded warnings from the GPS industry that LightSquared's network could interfere with GPS.
Fortress Investment Group LLC, Centerbridge Partners and J.P. Morgan & Chase Co. now share ownership in the reorganized company. Falcone maintained a 44% stake in the company but no longer has a say in the wireless spectrum venture's operations.