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.
The president and CEO of Nokia, Pekka Lundmark, gave a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress 2021 in which he spoke of 5G wireless communications, critical networks and what the post-COVID future holds. In a written version released by Nokia, Lundmark said that in the first two months of 2021, Nokia announced a stream of new deals with its traditional customer base of telcos, others with webscales, government agencies, commercial ports, transport hubs and other partners.
“Our work with this diverse and global base of customers has shown us what businesses of all types want from their connectivity in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. Increasingly, they are looking for three key characteristics,” Lundmark said.
The Nokia executive said the company’s customers first want carrier-grade performance that can transport and process vast amounts of data quickly and with six-nine (99.9999 percent) reliability. Customers want connectivity that can provide wired levels of performance and resilience wirelessly.
He said that, second, customers want connectivity with the elasticity, flexibility and self-definition that is normally associated with webscales. “It must adapt, evolve and maintain peak performance no matter what demands are placed on it,” he said.
The third, and a crucial, aspect he said customers want is critical networks that can underpin their most important functions.
Elaborating on critical networks, Lundmark said it is an important point. He said that for consumers, a network outage could be annoying. However, for industry, it can be deadly, as safety programs lag or autonomous robots can no longer track nearby people. He said the threat of network outages is one of the main reasons why mission-critical industries such as railways and mines often choose to build their own private networks.
“Until recently, industries only had access to licensed narrowband spectrum and, as a result, they could only deploy voice and low-speed data on their private networks,” Lundmark said. “But with private and public 5G, industries can support a whole host of new applications and use cases.”
Some of these use cases are wide-area, such as connected fleets of trains, while some are hyper-local, such as specific factories or solar arrays,” Lundmark said. He said the fusion of big capacity with specific needs is the future. “We are back to big small tech,” he said.
Calling the advance exciting, Lundmark said it nevertheless could seem to be abstract. To reveal a clearer idea of the potential the future connectivity holds, he referred to statistics Nokia has seen from early use cases.
“Our partners saw unanticipated breakdowns and production line defects drop by 30 percent after installing smart video sensors in our manufacturing deployments,” Lundmark said. “In the logistics sector, deploying augmented reality devices cut machine-monitoring costs by half. In ports, remote-controlled cranes doubled productivity and eliminated staff injuries — an incredible 100 percent drop. Remember, we are still early in the cycle of digitalization. So as positive as these early results are, we can realistically expect them to get even better as 5G beds in.”
A Nokia Bell Labs paper, ‘Industrial IoT networks: how 5G is transforming industry verticals’, explains how 5G can replace wired Ethernet in standard industrial control protocols, support real-time service alteration, enable private edge cloud, power machine learning and analytics, and unlock widespread deep slicing. According to Lundmark, all of these have huge, positive implications for capex, opex, productivity, and sustainability and worker safety.
“It will take work and time,” he said. “But there is a huge appetite for change and improvement across business, enterprise and industry. We predict that every dollar of investment in network and cloud infrastructure will provide more than four dollars of end-user value creation. The result is we are looking at an economic gain of up to 7 percent of global GDP, or $8 trillion, by 2030. Elsewhere, if the gain is that high in economic terms, imagine what it means for productivity, equality or sustainability.”
According to Lundmark, “the technology is a game-changer. It allows us to look to the future with optimism, in the knowledge that connectivity will make people safer, communities more prosperous and businesses more innovative. A future of big small tech awaits us. I am proud that Nokia is making it a reality.”
The Rudin Family, in collaboration with Crown Castle International, has announced that 345 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan has become one of the first multi-tenant commercial office buildings to deploy a wireless network using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
345 Park tenants will be able to create and access their own dedicated, private broadband wireless networks, using a neutral host CBRS network, which has been built in the lobby and concourse levels. Additional areas within the building will be connected later this year. Construction overlapped with a full renovation of the lobby and concourse designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and coincides with the first anniversary of the FCC’s authorization of the CBRS spectrum band for commercial use.
The initiative, which doubles the current wireless capacity, will provide more flexibility for configuring wireless solutions for improved security and visitor features. While tenants, employees and visitors can use this higher capacity private network, it also allows building ownership to accommodate significantly more devices. The system will also support more bandwidth in the lobby for tenants and visitors as they adhere to new social distancing guidelines.
“CBRS is consistent with our company’s focus on shared assets for the benefit of all. This is of great value to building owners, tenants, and wireless network operators,” said Paul Reddick, vice president of Strategy, Business and Product Development for Crown Castle.
345 Park Avenue is WiredScore Platinum and currently uses the Nantum operating system, a smart building platform developed by Rudin’s start-up technology company, Prescriptive Data, to save money, make tenants more comfortable, and dramatically increase energy efficiency. The new multi-tenant CBRS network will seamlessly integrate with Nantum to provide faster real-time updates to both ownership and tenants including floor-by-floor occupancy data, indoor air quality, lobby occupancy and elevator wait times.
KPMG, a 345 Park tenant, recently selected Nantum to be part of a new patent-pending blockchain capability called KPMG Climate Accounting Infrastructure (CAI), which helps organizations more accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions and track offsets. The CBRS network brings increased bandwidth and heightened security to capture data continuously.
“Real estate owners and operators are under immense pressure to assess the impact of different climate risks on their assets, improve tenant experience and report progress toward emissions reduction goals to stakeholders,” said Arun Ghosh, KPMG One Americas Blockchain & Cryptoassets leader. “A CBRS network can provide the fault tolerant, local 5G backbone to enable KPMG Climate Accounting Infrastructure to capture highly granular data, powered by Nantum, to derive the trusted insights needed to measure progress toward net-zero by accounting for decarbonization and the transition to renewable energy.”
The CBRS network at 345 Park was designed with the infrastructure to meet future demands including 5G software-upgradable radios, which will provide faster speeds and elevated user experiences. Additionally, the private network was built as an Open RAN solution that will lead to lower cost and more flexibility.
The private LTE/5G infrastructure and device market grew over 7 percent last year, despite the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, according to a new report from Mobile Experts. Joe Madden, company founder and principal analyst, said it was a portent for the future.
“We’re really jazzed up about the private LTE and 5G market because things are starting to change fast,” he said, “and we’ve just jacked up our forecasts because we’re seeing good things happening.”
The Mobile Experts forecast said that private LTE/5G infrastructure and devices will significantly increase their share of the overall private wireless market, growing from 11 percent in 2020 to 25 percent in 2026. The total private LTE/5G market opportunity, including services, will be more than $45 billion over the next six years, according to the report.
Mobile Experts looked at several industries in its report – oil & gas, utilities, manufacturing, transportation, government/public sector and mining – and how private networks are evolving to provide them with new capabilities to enhance productivity and safety.
“We have enterprises that are learning how to deploy private networks because they’re interested in automating some of their operations,” Madden said. “We have a lot of companies that want to use something like augmented-reality inspections, so that people can be more remote. It also allows them to do more of their work in factories from safer locations. So, we are seeing a lot of this kind of automation being accelerated in the market right now.”
Mobile Experts has observed active engagements from key suppliers of private LTE/5G. Mobile network operators and cloud players are bringing pre-packaged and custom Core/RAN/Transport solutions for varying needs across different industries.
“Virtualization is encouraging new players to enter the market and innovate – all that to say, we are seeing the momentum building and we expect this market to begin a strong and lengthy growth phase,” Madden said.
One of the biggest obstacles to the adoption of private LTE/5G has been the dependence upon Wi-Fi and the use of wired systems and a reticence to change. Additionally, spectrum was allocated for private broadband networks.
“So I think that’s just inertia is the single thing that’s held them back the most; plus they could only get a sliver of spectrum from 500 kilohertz to a megahertz wide,” Madden said, “but that began changing quickly when broadband spectrum was made available for these kinds of applications in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.”
The need for security is another motivating reason behind private LTE/5G, according to Madden. Wi-Fi is not perceived by enterprises as being as secure as LTE or 5G, which have control and user point separation (CUPS). If there’s a camera analyzing welding joints for quality control at automotive chassis facility, the HD video is stored on-premise and never exposed to a hacker.
“With GSM 3G and early LTE, we had no separation of the control plane and user plane, which meant that the data had to be routed through the public cellular network,” Madden said. “One of the things that have changed in the last few years is that now we have control and user plane separation, so that the user plane data never leaves the company facility. That gives the enterprise a better feeling about the security of their data and the control over their own future.”
The Mobile Experts report separates business models into three areas: enterprise-direct, hybrid and private wireless-as-a-service. In enterprise-direct, the company directly buys its own equipment, whether or not it owns or subleases the spectrum. On the other extreme, the private wireless-as-a service uses a managed service provider, such as a mobile network operator using a slice of its network or even a neutral-host operator.
“We are going to have options where, for example, the enterprise might buy the spectrum or even buy their own equipment, but then they might want to use a cloud service for their core network, instead of buying their own software and running it on a server,” Madden said. “So, using the in-between option, you can own some elements and then offload some elements where it’s scalable and easy to do.”
Right now, enterprise-direct is the dominant business model used by railroads, utilities and others for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and internet of things (IoT) purposes. But over the next five years, the managed service provider model will grow at a rapid pace, according to Madden.
“We’re seeing a lot of enterprises realizing that deploying private LTE and private 5G is harder to do than they thought. It is not easy like Wi-Fi,” he said. “So private wireless-as-a-service, something offered by an operator, is coming on strong. We do see that growing and becoming a sizeable fraction of the market over the next five years.”
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.”