Geoverse, a private cellular network operator, today announced it is the managed service partner for the Citizens Broadband Radio Network (CBRS) network being rolled out across Tucson, Arizona, by the city’s municipal government. The network will enable remote learning and multiple smart city applications in the first phase and new use cases and applications in follow-on phases. According to Geoverse, the city’s private network is one of the largest municipal cellular deployments rolled out so far in the United States.
The city has deployed the Geoverse GeoCore Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as the critical control element to manage the CBRS radio network infrastructure from JMA Wireless, the Spectrum Access Service (SAS) from Google, and the many user devices. Mobile devices and end points will be populated with a Geoverse subscriber identity module (SIM) card, enabling them to securely connect to the private network and utilize capabilities such as roaming if they travel off-net.
With the increasing requirement for remote learning, multiple school districts across Tucson faced an all-too-familiar problem: Many households lacked the resources to connect their school-age children. With limited resources and budgets, these school districts approached the city’s IT department to see how it could help address this digital divide.
Collin Boyce, the city government’s CIO, embraced the challenge and quickly developed a strategic plan that started with a school and city-county partnership. Local municipal assets such as city fiber and building rooftops and towers, combined with federal grant money, resulted in a viable plan to solve the student connectivity issue near-term, while also creating a network that could benefit the community elsewhere long-term.
A Wi-Fi approach was considered, but the required equipment, installation resources and related costs to connect the 31 neighborhoods, five school districts and almost 100,000 students proved problematic. Instead, the city evaluated LTE and CBRS, identified key advantages they offer, such as signal reach, performance, proven security and seamless mobility, and ultimately that became the foundation for the municipal solution.
“The resulting CBRS infrastructure footprint and related deployment resources required were significantly much more manageable and therefore more cost-effective, which was significant in understanding the tight schedule and limited resources we were managing against,” Boyce said.
The municipal network offers high-performance wireless connectivity with download speeds of 50 Mbps. In addition, the GeoCore Service platform allows for network slicing across the cellular network, resulting in multiple virtual networks, each of which can each be dedicated to specific functions to help manage city infrastructure domains better.
Uses include connecting the city’s network of traffic lights, monitoring and managing its critical water systems, serving city parks and recreational spaces with public Wi-Fi, and connecting first responders. The network also will be the platform the city uses to offer its staff low-cost, high-performance internet service.
“Once we became more familiar with all the capabilities of LTE and CBRS, it became increasingly clear that Geoverse was the right partner to lead and manage the delivery of this technology for our community network,” Boyce said,
Rod Nelson, the CEO of Geoverse, said the network represents a major deployment for its coverage area and for its support of use cases, underscoring the value of what such highly capable networks can do. “We’re pleased to partner with the city of Tucson on such a critical effort to keep their communities connected and their schools open. This is a model other cities are closely watching,” he said.
Geoverse is a licensed mobile operator that provides turnkey connectivity solutions for enterprises, property owners, and communities. The company’s private 5G/LTE cellular network offering, which is based on CBRS and licensed spectrum, interconnects with major mobile operators, delivering a secure, flexible solution enabling value-added applications and high-performance coverage for users and devices. Geoverse is a subsidiary of ATN International, a company with more than 30 years of experience building and operating cellular solutions for enterprises, carriers and consumers.