The FCC took the next step toward allowing Initial Commercial Deployments (ICD) for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band on Sept. 10, when Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators submitted their proposals for customers, sites, locations and use cases.
After additional SAS testing by the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences, ICDs are expected to begin in the fourth quarter, according to Chris Stark, executive director, CBRS Alliance and head of Business Development, Nokia North America.
“After we get past the last of the ITS testing, then we will see some significant deployments, which will probably shake out other issues. ITS wants to see how it will scale. It will lead into full commercial deployment, probably, in the first half of next year,” Stark said.
The ICDs will take place in parts of the country away from the coast that are unlikely to affect the navy radar, outside of the what are known as dynamic protection areas (DPA).
“The areas outside the DPAs is ripe for beginning full scale deployment and getting a lot more real-world data to support the innerworkings of the SAS,” Stark said.
NTIA Assisting FCC in Protecting U.S. Navy Radar
CBRS uses spectrum in the 3550-3700 MHz band, which on the surface looks like a perfect addition to the FCC’s mid-band 5G spectrum war chest. Except for the incumbents, which include the Navy.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has worked to protect those radar systems from being interfered with by commercial uses as part of the CBRS, David Redl, NTIA administrator, told an audience at the Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) last week in Los Angeles.
CBRS’ Tiered Access Depends on Dynamic Spectrum Management
In the CBRS, spectrum is managed and assigned on a dynamic, as-needed basis using a SAS, across three tiers of access. Tier one is the incumbent government and satellite users, tier two is Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be assigned using competitive bidding and tier three is General Authorized Access (GAA) tier, which is 80 megahertz that is licensed-by-rule to permit open, flexible access.
“As part of the FCC’s tiered architecture for access to the band, NTIA has invested significant resources and engineering expertise in collaboration with the FCC and the Wireless Innovation Forum to develop standards for testing and certification of spectrum access system and environmental sensing capability equipment,” Redl said. “As a result, CBRS is on the verge of becoming a commercial reality.”
The users of the GAA will need to incorporate Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) to detect the Navy radar and ensure that the SAS acts to protect the incumbent. ESC is due to be certified at the beginning of next year. Once the ESC and the SAS are certified, GAA licensees will be able to operate across the country.
Initial Commercial Deployment Proposal Shared by Federated Wireless
Federated Wireless’ proposal for an ICD boasted support by many in the wireless ecosystem, including 15 wireless operators, cable operators, tower companies and third-party service providers, including American Tower, ARRIS, Charter and ExteNet Systems.
The proposal, which includes nearly 16,000 deployment sites in 47 states and the District of Columbia, covers use cases from 5G and advanced LTE to cable solutions, fixed and mobile networks, enterprise Private-LTE, and managed network services. The ICD will use commercial equipment from 15 participants in the Federated Wireless Partner Program, including Airspan, Ericsson, Ruckus Networks and Telrad.
CBRS, SAS Equipment
Ruckus Networks, has announced that it is the first technology provider to achieve FCC certification, which covers it portfolio of 3.5 GHz access points under its OpenG brand.
Last week, AT&T announced selection of Samsung for CBRS compliant radios and base station equipment and CommScope was selected as its SAS provider. Initial equipment will use the LTE protocol and then be migrated to 5G.
DAS Goes SAS; Zinwave Partners with Federated Wireless
Zinwave is the first DAS provider to incorporate the Federated Wireless Spectrum Controller, an OnGo network tool that includes a SAS for spectrum management. Establishing the SAS to DAS connection allows Zinwave to incorporate OnGo with its current cellular and public safety wireless connectivity solutions.
Certainly, there are some steps to go before full-blown CBRS users roam the entire continental United States. But, CBRS, which began with a proceeding at the FCC in 2012, has jumped a lot of hoops and is indeed gaining momentum.