Harbinger brings new player to wireless space with LightSquared; could cable be next?

Even as the cable industry faces the thought that Sprint (NYSE: S), its managing partner in the Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) venture, will try to take over the whole WiMAX thing, it faces competition--or possibly cooperation--from a new quarter. Harbinger Capital Partners has announced plans to develop and launch its own data-based broadband mobile wireless network next year and has started to set up the pieces to build the business.

While the odds would seem stacked against yet another wireless venture, there are opportunities that make the new project intriguing--not the least of which is the thought that cable might be spurned by Sprint and start looking for another wireless valve at the same time Harbinger is looking for LightSquared customers.

The new entity has named Sanjiv Ahuja, former chief of Orange, France Telecom's (NYSE: FTE) mobile unit, to run the new company but, according to a story in Tech News World, "Harbinger will have to hire very many very experienced senior executives to have a chance of making this work."

That shouldn't be a big problem considering how many former telecom senior executives are floating around looking for new jobs thanks to ongoing industry consolidation. The challenges, as Tech News World points out, are daunting but, "never count (Harbinger founder Philip) Falcone out." Falcone, the story said, has enough moxie and experience to come in and shake up the wireless business. "An outsider can indeed be successful in this space by targeting a new opportunity and attacking it in a new way so it doesn't have to really compete in a traditional sense."

Could that new opportunity be a collaboration with cable? Perhaps. It all depends on what Sprint does or doesn't do.

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