Ligado raises nearly $4B to support L-Band plan

Ligado Networks says it has raised nearly $4 billion in new capital, enabling the company to take a “major step” toward realizing its 5G plans for mission-critical industries and expediting the FCC’s efforts to increase the use of mid-band spectrum.

This comes as The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, earlier this month reported that Ligado was heading back to the debt markets in hopes of raising as much as $4 billion to head off a possible bankruptcy.

The FCC back in April unanimously approved Ligado’s plans to use the L-band despite a lot of push-back from the Department of Defense (DoD), which claims its plans will potentially interfere with the government’s use of GPS. The FCC said its order included conditions to ensure that incumbents would not experience harmful interference. 

On Friday, Ligado said it secured $3.85 billion from existing and new investors, which will support the company’s technology plan to expand the roster of vendors supporting the L-Band ecosystem. The offering was led by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Although speculation for years has been that Ligado would sell its mid-band spectrum to the highest bidding wireless operator, the company said it has made important strides to realize the full potential of its spectrum and progress toward bringing next-generation services to market. In June 2020, Ligado’s submissions into 3GPP were approved and “enjoyed the support of global vendors such as Nokia, Intel, Samsung, and Sequans,” according to Ligado.

The company said this latest round of capital will further strengthen its commercial collaboration with chipset designers, device manufacturers, and network infrastructure providers.

“Today is a great day, and now the fun begins. We’ve secured our license, we’ve raised the necessary capital, and we’re in a great position to work with the industry to get this spectrum deployed for 5G to support critical industries across the U.S.,” said Ligado President and CEO Doug Smith in a statement.

“This new round of funding from existing and new investors validates our 5G plans to deploy this spectrum,” said Ligado Board Chairman Ivan Seidenberg, who served as chairman of Verizon Communications from 2000 to 2011. “We look forward to making continued progress to build the commercial ecosystem and fully execute on our vision for this spectrum as authorized by the FCC.”

Ligado’s plans call for enhancing its satellite service capabilities to include IoT technology. The company said the new financing will allow it to advance the development of “an innovative private network solution that will offer enterprise and industrial sectors the best of both worlds: managed network services run on fully licensed, dedicated spectrum.”