LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned after the Federal Communications Commission turned down the company's plan to build a nationwide wireless network, the company said.
LightSquared's proposed network was shown to interfere with global positioning systems, and Ahuja oversaw a failed lobbying battle to gain FCC approval. He will remain as chairman of the board.
Martin Harriman, an executive vice president with the company, is also stepping down.
The move could signal an even greater role for LightSquared’s controversial backer, Philip Falcone. As LightSquared’s top financier, Falcone has long been the public face of the controversy and will now take a seat on the board of directors.
Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund has put about $3 billion into the LightSquared venture and on Tuesday Falcone vowed to take an “aggressive approach” to ensure the company has enough money to operate. Last week LightSquared said it is cutting 45 percent of its 330-person workforce.
Falcone did praise Ahuja’s “great leadership in bringing the LightSquared vision to this point.” He specifically cited Ahuja’s successful efforts to form partnerships with other companies.
Ahuja became the first CEO of LightSquared when the company was formed out of other satellite communications companies in 2010. The company called him a “telecommunications visionary” with a successful record of building new wireless networks in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Ahuja served as the CEO of the telecom giant Orange Group from 2004 to 2007. In 2007 he founded Augere, which developed wireless networks in Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere.
Falcone said he is still working to overcome the GPS interference issues and launch a network.
“We of course agree that it is critical to ensure that national security, aviation and the GPS communities are protected,” Falcone said in a statement. “I am confident that working together, we can solve this problem and bring the American consumer the lower priced 4G wireless alternative they need and deserve.”
While LightSquared searches for a new CEO, Doug Smith, currently chief network officer, and Marc Montagner, currently chief financial officer, were named as interim co-chief operating officers.