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High-Tech Teligent ends some services as it enters bankruptcy

Heads up, Teligent is telling its customers. Be ready for June 25.

That’s the day the company officially plans to halt certain telecom services in certain California markets.

While the company plans to stick with long-distance, troubled Teligent is cutting off other service in several markets , including San Diego.

A spokeswoman for Virginia-based Teligent said the company was giving its customers at least 30 days’ notice of the change. A postcard from Teligent warns customers to make other arrangements for local service and Internet service.

One such postcard addressed to the San Diego Business Journal indicated changes were in store for Orange County, Sacramento and San Jose customers.

Teligent laid off roughly one-third of its employees last month. Published reports put the number between 800 and 900. The company, based in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Vienna, Va., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 21.

Trading in Teligent’s stock had been halted 10 days earlier. Share price had sunk to 56 cents. The company went off the Nasdaq on June 8.

It’s a far cry from the spring of 1999, when Teligent made its San Diego debut and its stock traded in the $41 range.

CEO Alex J. Mandl , the former No. 2 executive at AT & T; Corp. , came to town then, promoting Teligent as a high-bandwidth telecom service for small and mid-sized businesses.

At that point the company had lease options to set up service in about 75 San Diego County buildings. Its strategy was to build its own local networks so it did not have to resell service from the Baby Bells. The company relied , and still relies , on microwave technology, also known as fixed wireless.

At the time, Mandl told a Business Journal reporter the company was considering expanding its service internationally.

By then the firm had received $1.7 billion in funding. It had received $120 million in its November 1998 initial public offering.

Roughly 2 & #733; years later, on April 30, Teligent announced Mandl was no longer chairman and CEO.

Teligent spokeswoman Tita Thompson said last week the company was not shutting down facilities in any of its markets. The company holds the spectrum licenses needed for fixed wireless service in 74 markets, and operates in 43 markets, she said.

Thompson said the company plans to emerge from bankruptcy in a profitable position.

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Columnar Components:

San Diego-based Wireless Facilities, Inc. announced June 12 it will provide wireless telecom network design services to the Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group. It will do engineering work in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. SnapTrack, Inc., the Silicon Valley subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., has appointed Bret Sewell as president. He follows Steve Poizner, who is taking a leave of absence from the company. SnapTrack marries two-way wireless technology with Global Positioning System technology.

Send high-tech news to Graves via e-mail at bgraves@sdbj.com.

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