Nokia Siemens Networks scores eight-year, $7 billion contract for LTE network

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) was just awarded a $7 billion, eight-year contract to design, build and maintain a wholesale long-term evolution (LTE) network in the United States in a deal led by U.S. hedge fund Harbinger. The new network, codenamed LightSquared and set to launch in mid-2011, will offer terrestrial-only, satellite-only or integrated satellite/terrestrial services based on the terrestrial spectrum owned by Harbinger-controlled satellite networks. The network, to be led by former France Telecom’s Orange mobile topper Sajiv Ahuja, will consist of 40,000 base stations that cover 92 percent of the U.S. population in 2015. LightSquared, which will be a likely provider to prepaid operators as well as other carriers, will begin beta service in Phoenix and Denver.

This news came on the heels of NSN’s purchase of Motorola’s wireless networks unit, for $1.2 billion, a deal expected to close by the end of the year. The sale infuses Motorola with cash as the company plans to split into two companies: Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility. NSN will absorb approximately 7500 former Motorola employees. Motorola customers include Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia is looking for a replacement for CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who has been the chief executive since 2006.