FCC Certifies Environmental Sensing Capability for OnGo Deployments in 3.5 GHz CBRS Band

The FCC, recently in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), approved the Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC) of three CBRS Alliance members: CommScope, Federated Wireless and Google

The commercialization of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band is quickly approaching, and with the FCC’s completion of the ESC testing process, OnGo deployments are imminent. According to Joe Madden, Principal Analyst at Mobile Experts, the shared spectrum paradigm presented by CBRS has immense potential to unlock value for carriers, equipment manufacturers and end users alike thanks to new business models enabled by increased connectivity for in-building, public spaces and Industrial IoT applications.

Today, the 3.5 GHz CBRS band is used primarily by the DoD for ship-borne radars, but at any given moment only a small fraction of available spectrum is being utilized. In order to ensure that DoD radar is protected from interference by other users in the band, ESC networks are being readied for deployment along coastal regions. When an ESC sensor detects a protected radar transmission, it informs a Spectrum Access System (SAS), which activates a protection zone and dynamically reassigns users in the area to other parts of the band.

As commercial services over shared spectrum are poised for roll-out, certified ESC operators will ensure that incumbent users of the band are protected while helping maximize availability of CBRS spectrum across coastal areas.

Speaking on the development, Alan Ewing, Executive Director of the CBRS Alliance said that the certification of ESC operators represents a significant step toward making commercial OnGo services in the CBRS band a reality. He further congratulated CommScope, Federated Wireless and Google on this monumental achievement. According to him, the amount of collaboration that goes into such an industry-wide effort cannot be overstated – from equipment vendors and wireless carriers, to testing facilities and standards organizations. It’s been a coordinated mission of industry and government dedicated to innovation in the CBRS band that has allowed the CBRS Alliance to reach this point.

NTIA also announced the completion of laboratory testing for five SAS administrators, the second key component of the shared spectrum model driving commercial services in the CBRS band. The SAS administrators are expected to receive final reports on SAS testing results from NTIA and will submit those reports to the FCC in May 2019. Initial commercial deployments should begin as early as Q2 2019, after FCC and DoD review of the test results.