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Rajendra & Neera Singh
Friday, November 21, 2008

In a 1998 article, the Washington Post called the husband and wife duo of Rajendra and Neera Singh an “extremely private” couple. The newspaper also said it was the first interview Rajendra had granted to the media after more than 10 years in business. The Singhs also entered the national spotlight when in 1998 Forbes listed Rajendra among the country’s richest 400 Americans, with a ranking of 366. In 1999, Forbes counted Singh among the country’s billionaires and ranked him the 223rd richest American.
Rajendra grew up in Kairoo in Rajasthan, a village that did not have either electricity or telephones. He went on to study at the University of Maine and Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While vacationing in India, he met Neera, then at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She joined him in Maine and later Kansas State University, where Rajendra taught.

According to the article in the Post, late one night in 1982 the Singhs wrote a software program that could quickly calculate radio tower interference for new cellular telephone systems. They sent it to a friend of a friend: Wayne Schelle, who was then building a cellular system in the Washington-Baltimore region. In the software, Schelle saw the opportunity to save his company $80,000 and insisted that the Singhs accept compensation. They took only $1,500, but their reputation for combining software with radio spectrum spread far and wide, and wireless king Craig McCaw and his likes quickly made a beeline to their home.

In a display of great business acumen, Rajendra Singh started LCC, or Lunayach (Rajendra’s family name) Communications Consultants, in 1983. The company built several of McCaw’s wireless infrastructure, and that of the competing Nextel, too.

But in the early 1990s, Singh executed a brilliant move by gobbling up airwaves that were originally set aside for the Xerox Corp. by the Federal Communications Commission. Xerox originally proposed to use these frequencies to connect copiers and computers wirelessly inside buildings. But these plans were virtually abandoned when Singh applied for these licenses and received approval months before the Congress mandated the auctioning of airwaves. Having acquired these licenses, now estimated in billions, at virtually no cost, Singh formed a newly established company, Teligent, and hired former AT&T executive Alex Mandl to run it. Teligent last year completed an initial public offering, further enriching Singh’s fortunes. Singh also has a portfolio of wireless properties in many parts of the world.

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