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.
Tessco Technologies and Federated Wireless are partnering to support the adoption of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) private networks in a number of industries including manufacturing, transportation and energy.
“We’re looking forward to close collaboration with Tessco in our efforts to accelerate adoption of CBRS in the private wireless market where it is already proving to be a game-changer in a wide range of industries,” said Iyad Tarazi, Federated Wireless president and CEO. “We are confident that this alliance will be beneficial to customers and suppliers, as well as to our two companies.”
Tessco provides a broad range of products as well as RF engineering and materials management via its proprietary OASIS platform. Federated develops shared spectrum CBRS capabilities, providing services including spectrum assessment, RF planning, CBRS training, and spectrum access through its spectrum controller. Together, the companies provide a full portfolio of CBRS solutions enabling end users, resellers, integrators, and contractors to expedite the design, installation and deployment of CBRS private wireless networks.
“CBRS spectrum availability represents an unprecedented opportunity for many industries to meet wireless connectivity challenges,” said Sandip Mukerjee, president and CEO of Tessco. “This collaboration will focus on delivering complete CBRS solutions that provide the best outcome for our mutual customers. Speeding commercial adoption requires a technically competent ecosystem capable of operation excellence and we believe Tessco and Federated Wireless are uniquely equipped to do just that.”
Geoverse, a private cellular network operator, has launched a national network-as-a-service (NaaS) platform, which enables enterprises, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), systems integrators and other partners to introduce the advanced functionality of private cellular networks. The company also offers a turnkey private LTE system that can be owned and operated by the enterprise, property owners, or municipalities.
“People are reading more and more about private cellular, and that is creating momentum in the marketplace. It’s moving more from just curiosity to adoption,” said Bob Gault, chief commercial officer at Geoverse. “So, we are capitalizing on the momentum to accelerate the marketplace and take advantage of the excitement around the solution.”
The NaaS is compatible with general access and priority access licenses in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and 600/700 licensed low band LTE spectrum owned by Geoverse, which has access to the licensed spectrum via another Geoverse line of business – Commnet Wireless.
Geoverse’s NaaS provides the enterprise with an intelligent services platform that securely enables roaming, neutral-host service, voice over LTE (VoLTE), integrated private branch exchange (PBX) calling features, licensed low-band spectrum support and analytics. NaaS includes full evolved packet core (EPC) functionality hosted in the cloud, which can be deployed quickly and at low cost for enterprises of all types or on-premise for low-latency applications. In short, it’s intended to help the enterprise do more with its cellular network.
NaaS is a standalone network component that can be bundled with other network infrastructure elements – either sourced from Geoverse or from a Geoverse partner. In January, Geoverse will enable a channel-led marketing model. The industry partners program will reach out to a variety of companies, including communications service providers that provide service to enterprises, legacy cellular carriers, tower companies, technology vendors, enterprise network resellers, system integrators, value-added resellers and consultants.
“As part of our NaaS offering, we have also announced a formal partner program to allow participating members to easily present a more compelling network offering to their customers,” Gault said. “Our partners give us capabilities and reach in the marketplace. That’s the way we’re going to grow and grow exponentially in fiscal year 2021 and beyond.” Some of Geoverse’s partners include JMA Wireless, Communication Technology Services, CommScope/Ruckus, Advanced Network Services and Nokia.
Geoverse would like to tap into partners’ relationships with local municipalities, which are getting Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to close the digital divide.
“We’re firing up private cellular services in local municipalities to provide video security and distance-based learning in the education space and leveraging the Tier 2 service providers and our many partners to do that,” Gault said.
Geoverse is radio-agnostic; therefore, its NaaS integrates with all leading radio network vendors, allowing organizations that may already have their own radio access networks (RANs) or that have partnered with a preferred VAR or systems integrator to implement a private cellular network. Each of the NaaS-enabled user devices uses a Geoverse subscriber identification module (SIM) card to take advantage of private cellular network functionality, such as user roaming onto other cellular networks.
The foundation of the Geoverse’s NaaS is the GeoCore platform, which provides a clear path to 5G wireless communications. GeoCore securely interconnects private enterprise networks with major public cellular carriers, facilitated by existing roaming agreements that Geoverse has with more than 90 service providers across the United States and internationally.
Geoverse has completed its first successful standalone 5G data session using its GeoCore intelligent service platform. Following this test, Geoverse is preparing to rollout standalone 5G across its national GeoCore footprint during the first half of 2021 as a foundation for delivering 5G to the enterprise.
“Private cellular networks are starting to see real growth, and that trajectory will only accelerate as enterprises look to take advantage of new technologies like CBRS and business models to achieve high-performance mobility services in a mobile first world,” said Geoverse CEO Rod Nelson. “With our NaaS offering, Geoverse brings an integrated solution to market, providing our partners a highly effective way to easily do more with their own products and ultimately help their customers do more with their networks.”
The potential vertical industries for private cellular networks, according to market researcher Business Industry Reports, include manufacturing, transportation, utilities, mining, oil and gas, healthcare, education, retail and hospitality, and government and municipalities. Early NaaS deployments include both fixed wireless service, such as the service used by so many school districts today for remote learning, and mobile-based wireless service for the enterprise.
Nokia, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies are some of the OEMs deploying dedicated private networks for enterprises, according to market research database Kenneth Research. “For instance, Nokia offers MulteFire and CBRS small cells that allow enterprises to deploy their own private LTE networks,” information from Kenneth Research reads. “The company provides a virtual mobile edge computing/private LTE solution to enterprises that enable them with edge cloud low-latency applications that include analytics, push-to-talk and push-to-video, IoT management and video orchestration.”
CommScope Partnerships Help It Enter Enterprise Market
CommScope and Cradlepoint have partnered to deliver turnkey private LTE deployments designed for mission-critical fixed and mobile use. The end-to-end solution provides enterprise-grade security for indoor and outdoor applications, using CommScope’s Ruckus CBRS networks and Cradlepoint’s cloud managed endpoints.
In another partnership, CommScope and Inseego plan to offer a CBRS solutions for mission-critical fixed and mobile use for indoor and outdoor applications.
Verizon to Deploy NaaS in Walgreens Stores
NaaS has caught the interest of the major carriers. Verizon Business will deploy it to deliver an enhanced wireless services to customers at more than 9,000 Walgreens and Duane Reade retail locations across the United States. The NaaS will carry the breadth of Verizon’s assets including LTE, 5G and Verizon Media, which will enable it to continually update its customized technology and business process offering.
Tami Erwin, Verizon Business CEO, said, “Working closely with Walgreens to understand their focus areas, we’ve tailored an offering that will meet their technology needs of today, and quickly scale to offer a rolling deployment of 5G in Walgreens locations, next-gen in-store experiences for customers and employees, and future-proofed backend operations to enhance efficiencies.” Verizon Business has also announced its intention to deploy on-site LTE private networks for enterprise customers.
Earlier in December, Verizon Business launched On Site LTE, which provides enterprises with a private, secure and dedicated on-premises wireless network platform on which to run critical business applications and operations. According to Verizon, On Site LTE can serve as a platform to accelerate digital transformation initiatives — such as predictive maintenance, robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and mobile edge compute (MEC) — while improving the overall operational output of their businesses.
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 final hurdle was removed by the FCC as it certified four Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators, paving the way for full commercial operations in the 3.5 GHz band, according to Public Notice DA 20-110. OnGo Networks using Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum can be deployed anywhere in the country now. Previously, OnGo networks could only be deployed far from the coasts under an order known as the Initial Commercial Deployment, a transitional phase that allowed the FCC to further vet the effectiveness of the SAS administrators.
To ensure that the Department of Defense (DOD) has continued access to the band for its Navy radar, Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) networks were set up along the U.S. coast. The ESC networks inform the SAS administrators — CommScope, Federated Wireless, and Google — to activate a protection zone and dynamically reassign users in the area to other parts of the band, when the radar systems are activated.
The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) said that dynamic spectrum sharing, also known as automatic frequency coordination, will not only make CBRS possible in the 3.5 GHz band but also the use of 5G in other bands.
“As we automate frequency coordination and, thereby, lower transaction costs, use spectrum more efficiently, speed time to market, protect incumbents from interference with certainty, and generally expand the supply of wireless connectivity that is fast becoming, like electricity, a critical input for most other industries and economic activity,” DSA said in a white paper.
The FCC is considering using automatic frequency coordination to facilitate shared access by unlicensed, licensed and lightly-licensed users in such bands as: 6 GHz, 3.7-4.2 GHz and 37-37.6 GHz.
The evolution of automated frequency coordination is not over. DSA’s report discusses emerging technology that may benefit AFC systems, such as real-world GIS data (e.g., terrain, clutter, building heights and materials); real-time spectrum sensing data; sophisticated propagation and interference modeling; cloud-based database services; and blockchain technology.
Political Cooperation a Necessity for CBRS
As well as latest technology, the CBRS initiative involved public/private partnerships between industry and government organizations. Federal agencies including the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), and Department of Defense, along with the Wireless Innovation Forum and the 159 members of the CBRS Alliance.
“NTIA’s groundbreaking engineering work and close collaboration with the FCC, DOD and industry played a critical role in opening up the 3.5 GHz CBRS band for next-generation wireless services,” said Douglas Kinkoph of the NTIA.
Prior to commercial availability, the 3.5 GHz CBRS band was used primarily by the DoD, mostly for shipborne radar systems. The ESC networks inform the SAS administrators to activate a protection zone and dynamically reassign users in the area to other parts of the band, thus protecting the incumbent’s use of the spectrum while maximizing availability of CBRS spectrum across coastal areas.
“The authorization of full commercial deployments in the CBRS band is a significant milestone in our nation’s management and utilization of a vital resource, the radio frequency spectrum,” said Dana Deasy, Chief Information Officer for the DoD. “The Defense Department worked closely with our federal partners at the NTIA and FCC, and with industry, to ensure that our mission critical operations would be protected while enabling new commercial uses. Collectively, we were able to creatively address the engineering and security challenges associated with military and commercial spectrum sharing. We look to build upon those successes going forward. Additionally, I would like to thank the men and women in DoD who have diligently worked to make today possible.”