First 3.5 GHz CBRS Network Now Being Deployed Across the US

Working to accelerate the availability of high-speed, low-cost, wireless access to mobile data, Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) pioneer Federated Wireless has announced that it will begin initial commercial deployment (ICD) of its services to more than 20 customers in both urban and rural markets across 36 states in the U.S. immediately upon FCC public notice of approval. In combination with the series C funding announced on September 4, this puts Federated Wireless squarely at the forefront of shared spectrum market development. The CBRS market is in a state of rapid and dynamic growth, with certification and full automation anticipated by EOY 2019 and licensed CBRS spectrum expected in mid-2020.

Customers from all areas of business across the U.S. will begin to reap the benefits of the higher throughput, improved availability and low barrier-to-entry for high-performance CBRS services made available through shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range.

CBRS: The Innovation Band

Dubbed “The Innovation Band” since its inception, CBRS is a groundbreaking wireless technology that delivers the best attributes of traditional wireless and Wi-Fi, with lower fixed costs, higher quality and greater efficiency and scale. The 150 MHz available in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band is approximately equivalent to that owned by the largest national wireless carriers and is divided into three tiers of service dedicated to:

  • Incumbents, including the U.S. Navy, who use the spectrum for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications as well as defense system management
  • Priority Access Licenses (PALs), which will be used to expand national carrier network capacity
  • General Authorized Access (GAA), which is available to public venues, property managers and others who need to augment and improve their wireless communications networks and service capabilities

Critical Use Cases: Federated Wireless is working with customers and partners that represent each of the market segments poised to benefit from this massive swath of midband spectrum. These include Verizon, Charter, American Tower, Airspan, Boingo Wireless, Cambium Networks, Cradlepoint, Contour Networks, Ericsson, ExteNet Systems, Geoverse, JMA Wireless, Landmark Dividend, Motorola Solutions, Nokia, Samsung, Telrad and Wave Wireless.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs): CBRS allows Mobile Network Operators to quickly roll out additional network capacity for new indoor and outdoor wireless services while keeping customers on their networks. As an extension of their existing networks, quality-of-service remains high. Unlike Wi-Fi bands, which are getting crowded, access is dynamically managed by the Spectrum Access System (SAS) so interference is kept to a minimum. Unlike distributed antenna systems (DAS), which can be expensive to expand, CBRS deployment costs are on par with Wi-Fi for network and service extensions.

Cable Operators (MSOs): CBRS lets cable operators cost-effectively add LTE to their millions of installed access points (APs), offering coverage extension and capacity augmentation. This can be translated into higher quality-of-service for existing customers and new revenue opportunities through premium enterprise wireless service offerings.

Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs): CBRS offers a new opportunity for WISPs to invest in network upgrades that can expand the availability of reliable and affordable fixed broadband service. Many WISPs hold licenses in the 3650-3700 MHz range today, so adding CBRS technology to their toolkit will simply require a software upgrade to equipment that is already deployed. Because of the low-cost model, WISPs using CBRS spectrum for fixed wireless broadband access provides quick ROI and helps close the urban-rural digital divide.

Enterprise: CBRS offers a new opportunity for enterprises to upgrade their communications networks with high-speed private LTE solutions that they can deploy themselves, with the cost and simplicity of Wi-Fi. CBRS can be used to reduce interference on Wi-Fi networks, or to run specific IoT services like cameras and door entry systems that require security and reliability. CBRS also enables operator-neutral networks that serve both employees and customers, whether they are guests, patients, tenants, shoppers or sports fans.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs): CBRS-based, high-quality, high-speed operator-neutral LTE networks let MSPs add a whole new set of service offering to their portfolios. For example, property managers can add indoor LTE to Wi-Fi as a selling point for attracting new tenants, while hotels and convention centers can keep their guests connected while they are anywhere on the property.

CBRS: A Bridge to 5G

While 5G promises great things, including mobile data throughput from 1-100 Gbps, low network latency approaching 1 millisecond (ms) and efficient support for larger numbers of cellular-connected IoT endpoints than 4G LTE, analysts estimate that the road to get there is long. In a recent report, Gartner estimated that, “By 2020, 7% of CSPs worldwide will have a commercially viable wireless 5G service, shown significant progress from 5G proofs of concept or begun commercial network construction. Less than 45% of CSPs globally will have launched a commercial 5G network by 2025.1”

CBRS provides an immediate bridge to 5G, providing much of the high-performance, cost-reduction and service breadth it promises with support for 4G service delivery as well as critical 5G capabilities including edge computing and private networks. CBRS delivers advanced services where high data throughput and low latency is essential, including remote robotic surgery, autonomous vehicles and precision manufacturing. It also supports services in which mobility is critical, including computer vision applications, augmented and virtual reality and 4K video streaming. Extensive CBRS 5G ecosystems are being developed across network and device manufacturers and other bands (6 GHz, 3.1-3.55 GHz) are available for sharing to support network and service expansion. The CBRS Alliance will deliver 5G industry standards by Q4 2019.

Application Note