SQUAN, which builds indoor and outdoor DAS networks, 4G nodes, 5G nodes, towers for carriers and cable operators, as well as wireline operators, has announced its commitment to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), becoming a member of the CBRS Alliance, which supports the development of the 3.5 GHz band.
“We can now support CBRS deployment for the mobile network operators,” Anand Gandhi, chief technology officer, SQUAN, told AGL eDigest. “In addition, we believe CBRS will become an even bigger enterprise play, including Private LTE networks. Since we have the know-how to build indoor and outdoor DAS, it will be a smooth transition for us, as well as supporting the wireless and wireline operators.”
Gandhi said CBRS is a natural fit for SQUAN because of its experience in designing, building and maintaining DAS systems using the cellular spectrum. CBRS offers new avenues into the enterprise space for his company’s networks, which he thinks will take off.
“Previously, the enterprise depended on the operator for the signal, now CBRS is allowing the enterprise to be the driving force for the deployment of DAS networks. The enterprises we have talked to find this very interesting. Everything is starting to come together,” Gandhi said.
While there is plenty of potential and a ready ecosystem of OnGo products in the waiting, these are early days for CBRS. Prioritized Access Licenses have yet to be auctioned off (Auction date set for June 25).
“Currently we are in the education process with the enterprises,” Gandhi said. “There is a lot of interest, but the deployments will come in due time. The IT department has traditionally handled all the enterprise’s needs, so we must convince them that, with CBRS, we can design, integrate and maintain the system.”
In five to 10 years, Gandhi envisions new structures being built without copper, where all voice and data in the building runs on a Private LTE network. “Think of the cost and maintenance savings in not wiring all of those buildings,” he said.
In the meantime, the CBRS community is huddling up, creating partnerships and preparing for the future.
“All the players in the CBRS Alliance are going to be the leaders when CBRS goes to the next level,” Gandhi said. “There are multiple equipment vendors in the Alliance that we want to be paired with.” SQUAN also wants to cement partnerships with the carriers to deploy their CBRS DAS networks.
First and foremost, Gandhi is focusing on making sure his team is educated on CBRS and that his organization has the bandwidth to dedicate to CBRS.
The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and the Office of Engineering and Technology have certified the spectrum access systems (SAS) operated by Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google and Sony to begin initial commercial deployments (ICD) in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) at 3.5 GHz.
In order to use the CBRS, which represents 150 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, a network must employ a SAS and dynamically manage that spectrum use through an Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) network to avoid interfering with incumbent Navy radar users.
In November 2018, ITS Labs began testing the systems submitted by Amdocs, CommScope, Federated, Google, and Sony. ITS completed its laboratory testing on May 3, 2019, and subsequently provided the respective SAS Administrators with SAS laboratory test reports, which Amdocs, CommScope, Federated, Google, and Sony submitted for the Commission’s review in July 2019.
ICD is the final step in the development of the OnGo ecosystem and launch of commercial services in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band.
“ICD realizes the vision for the innovative shared spectrum model, introducing new commercial services while protecting existing federal users,” according to press release by the CBRS Alliance “The success of this model is being closely monitored by regulatory and industry players across the globe, as it promises the availability of valuable wireless spectrum that is often underutilized.”
In 2015, the FCC adopted rules for shared commercial use of the 3.5 GHz band and directed the WTB/OET—in consultation with the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) — to oversee the review, certification, and approval of SAS in the 3.5 GHz band.
“It can take decades for new spectrum to become available for commercial use using traditional methods, but the 150 MHz that make up the CBRS band has become commercially available in only six years, due in part to the close public-private partnership between industry players and government agencies,” the CBRS Alliance said.
JMA Wireless has received FCC certification of its XRAN virtual baseband and Cell Hub radio product line as a multiple radio system for the new Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). Certification covers Category A and B Citizen Broadband Service Device (CBSD) equipment classes, allowing for full commercial deployment of CBRS networks. JMA’s high capacity, scalable radio systems are ideal for deployment into buildings, campuses, metro areas and entertainment venues in both enterprise private networks or for mobile operator use.
XRAN and Cell Hub formally received CBRS Alliance OnGo certification, assuring interoperability and access to a broad selection of end user devices, customer premise equipment, spectrum access systems (SAS) and public-private network services. With over 140 companies in the OnGo ecosystem, end users and system integrators can build a shared spectrum network immediately around JMA’s software based XRAN baseband and CellHub distributed radio system.
“JMA’s completion of OnGo certification goes beyond being ready for shared, controlled and secure spectrum. It brings interoperability and assurances of a growing ecosystem around them, ultimately giving choice and opportunity for innovation to customers using OnGo solutions,” said Alan Ewing, executive director of the CBRS Alliance.
Cell Hub radios go beyond a typical access point or small cell architecture, providing an unmatched level of flexibility, scale, and versatility. Cell Hubs paired with XRAN are uniquely positioned to provide key end user benefits:
*High capacity, multi-use stadiums and arenas can adapt use of the spectrum by area, event type, and for many different constituencies of the venue. Campus or metro transportation systems can utilize the maximum amount of spectrum for multiple systems from mobile user or IT infrastructure. Buildings can integrate multiple network slices to empower varied use cases, including IT operations, IoT systems, private mobile staff communications, and mobile offload.
OnGo Service to Launch Sept. 18
The CBRS Alliance will hold “OnGo Commercial Service Launch: Share. Connect. Innovate.,” on Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C., celebrating the launch of commercial activity in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band.
Known as “The Innovation Band”, the 3.5 GHz CBRS band is valued at $15.6 billion and opens the door to a huge market opportunity for enterprises and the broader U.S. economy. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly will attend the event. As the CBRS ecosystem nears FCC authorization of commercial activity, attendees of this event will be among the first to hear some of the most compelling uses of OnGo in the market, including network densification, IoT, neutral host networks, private LTE networks, and by 2020, 5G.
It is no secret that we are more dependent on wireless connectivity than ever before, and that this dependency is growing far beyond just mobile phones and laptops. This increasingly wireless world is dependent upon the radio frequency spectrum, and there is a, seemingly endless, desire for more spectrum to support the demand.
Traditionally, spectrum has been allocated in one of two ways; 1) for exclusive use via the auction of very expensive license rights, or 2) for unlicensed use available to all, but on a best-effort, uncoordinated basis. The licensed approach underpins today’s mobile services, while the unlicensed approach has given us technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. While wireless technology and services have evolved dramatically over the last 30 years, this bipolar choice between licensed and unlicensed spectrum has remained unchanged – until now.
An Introduction to Shared Spectrum
Using some impressive foresight, in April 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) framework to open the 3.5 GHz spectrum band for new commercial services on a shared basis with existing incumbent users. In the new CBRS model, 150 MHz of underutilized spectrum is efficiently shared by taking advantage of advanced allocation and coordination techniques implemented as cloud services – a revolutionary, dynamic option that will become as important as the traditional approaches, not unlike the impact ride sharing has had to transportation.
Importantly, new commercial services are being introduced in two separate allocation modes: a portion of the band will be available for exclusive (Priority Access) use, while all spectrum, not being used by incumbents of priority access licensees, will be available for permissive (General Authorized) use. This model enables carriers, managed service providers, fixed operators, enterprises and industrial players to access this shared spectrum while protecting incumbent users, such as the military and fixed satellite providers. The spectrum is carefully managed to ensure there are no interruptions to either the incumbents’ existing services or the exclusive uses at the priority tier. For operators, businesses, and consumers, this means a new alternative that delivers reliable and predictable connectivity at a lower cost than traditional approaches.
The Birth of the CBRS Alliance
In 2016, six companies with common interests, in the adoption of CBRS technology, came together to form the CBRS Alliance. The focus of the CBRS Alliance is to support the commercialization of LTE and 5G solutions in the 3.5 GHz band of spectrum in all aspects – from technology development, to market awareness, to product certification that ensures overall interoperability. Since its inception, the CBRS Alliance has amassed more than 120 wireless industry players, representing a broad and diverse ecosystem, ranging from chipset, hardware and software manufacturers to mobile and cable operators, solution integrators, and end-user organizations, all focused on the opportunities enabled by CBRS.
Massive Economic Value
In late 2017, former FCC Commissioner and renowned economist Harold Furtchgott-Roth conducted the first economic analysis of the value presented by the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. He found that not only did the band add real value to the U.S. economy, but in fact, the estimated market value of the priority access spectrum licenses ranged up to $15.6 billion. In addition, the report found that the estimated net present value of consumer surplus is between $80 and $260 billion. For context, at the time of this report, the combined valuation of Uber and AirBnB was around $80 billion.
The full report from Furtchgott-Roth provides a thorough analysis of the economic value of the technology and highlights the fact that delaying the availability of CBRS could cost the U.S. economy between $10-20 billion per year.
Commercial Deployment Outlook
Leading organizations across the country are already exploring how to take advantage of OnGo1. The city of San Francisco recently announced its plans to use the 3.5 GHz band to power its smart city implementations, and the PGA Touris conducting extensive field trials of an OnGo private LTE network to improve coverage and security at its tournaments. Even the NFL is considering an OnGo network at each of its stadiums to augment existing wireless networks. But when can we expect to see these deployments become a reality?
In July 2018, the FCC took the next step toward the first commercial deployments in the 3.5 GHz band by announcingan “initial commercial deployment” phase that would precede the full launch of OnGo services. In October 2018, Ruckus Networks, Nokia, Ericsson, and Sercomm successfully achieved authorization from the FCC to operate their OnGosmall cells in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. These devices are also the first to receive OnGoCertification, indicating the products meet the standards that the CBRS Alliance has developed to ensure interoperability within the OnGo ecosystem. Since then, a number of additional Alliance member companies have received FCC authorization and OnGo certification on their infrastructure products.
In November 2018, the FCC issued the first end user device authorization for a CBRS client to Sierra Wireless for its CBRS IoT module. In the intervening months, several other devices have been authorized, representing the range of CBRS use cases. At this time, there are a variety of smartphones, push-to-talk handsets, IoT gateways, customer premise equipment, laptops and vehicular clients for CBRS, and many additional devices will be authorized through the remainder of 2019.
Collaboration is Key
The story of CBRS and OnGo is one of close industry and government collaboration. There has been an unprecedented amount of coordination and joint development to implement the FCC’s framework, prepare the industry for imminent deployments and certify the various components. The organizations that have been involved in these efforts include the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Wireless Innovation Forum (WIF), and the 120+ members of the CBRS Alliance. A recent FCC reportto Congress highlighted this collaboration and detailed how these organizations have come together to make the commercialization of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band a reality.
An entire industry has been hard at work laying the groundwork for the transition to shared spectrum. Over the last three-plus years, CBRS has been transformed from a high-level government framework to a soundly engineered, well-tested service that is supporting the next generation of wireless connectivity.
With final certifications underway and commercial service just around the corner, the industry is abuzz with the possibilities presented by OnGo for sectors ranging from mobile, cable and fixed wireless, to healthcare, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, mining, and transportation. The industry will be keeping a close eye on additional uses for CBRS’ innovative spectrum sharing model as they emerge, ultimately validating the flexibility of this new approach to wireless connectivity.
1. In May 2018, the CBRS Alliance announced the launch of the OnGoTMbrand and certification program which will drive interoperability between vendors and amongst the various components that comprise an overall CBRS solution. The launch of OnGo is reminiscent of the birth of the term “Wi-Fi” in the late 1990s as a market-friendly brand that encompasses a technology and its solutions. The CBRS Alliance’s certification program, supported by CTIA – a trade association representing the U.S. wireless communications industry, along with a number of global test labs, has established a set of standards for performance and interoperability of devices and services operating within the CBRS band.
Dave Wright played an instrumental role in the formation of the CBRS Alliance, collaborating with other founding members to create a robust multi-stakeholder organization focused on the optimization of LTE services in the CBRS band. He served as the Alliance’s first Secretary from its launch in August 2016 and was elected as the President of the Alliance in February 2018.