Satellite-based communications provider Lightsquared this week announced that Qualcomm will develop chipsets that will enable 1.6 GHz terrestrial LTE and satellite access and two partners that plan to buy wholesale capacity on the Lightsquared’s proposed integrated ancillary terrestrial components (ATC) network.

“We’ve been paying the R&D costs and working directly with Qualcomm to develop the next of their mainstream chips coming off their assembly line that will have the L-Band technology in it,” Lightsquared spokesman Tom Surface said. “These chips can now do multimode capability; one of the modes that will be in this [Qualcomm MDM9600] chip will have the ability to communicate on our network — both satellite and terrestrial.”

In addition, Lightsquared has announced its intent to accelerate its cooperative agreement with Inmarsat, which will give the satellite provider 40 MHz of contiguous spectrum that will be used for its terrestrial LTE network, Surface said. Being built by Nokia Siemens Networks for $7 billion, the Lightsquared LTE network is expected to have about 40,000 sites and cover 92% of the U.S. population by the end of 2015.

Under the ATC model, users within the footprint of the LTE network will utilize that connectivity; users outside the terrestrial network will connect via Lightsquared’s satellite infrastructure. Lightsquared also will reserve 6 MHz of spectrum for satellite-only use, Surface said.

Lightsquared will not be a retail provider of communications services over its ATC; instead, the company will sell capacity on its network on a wholesale basis, Surface said. Thus far, Lightsquared has completed agreements with two unannounced partners and is in “very advanced negotiations” with 11 others, he said.

These partners and potential customers come from numerous sectors, including retailers, carriers, rural wireline provider and even consumer-electronics companies, and are seeking connectivity via myriad models, Surface said.

“Some of our partners will choose only terrestrial and some will choose only satellite, but we do have the integrated service that can go either way,” he said, noting that tiered pricing will be based on service levels. “Some of the folks that we see being our partners will basically just need our capacity. Others will need billing support and back-office support.”

Lightsquared is scheduled to launch the first of its next-generation satellites in mid-November, with service on that infrastructure being available during the first half of 2011. From a terrestrial perspective, four pilot networks are scheduled to be in place early next year. Wireless-device suppliers AnyDATA and BandRich have announced they will used the Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset to build embedded modules, USB data modems and other devices that will be available during the second half of 2011.