This article originally ran in Network Builder Reports.
Verizon says its CBRS small cells will be smaller and lighter than those it has deployed in other spectrum bands. The carrier plans to supplement its outdoor small cell network with CBRS small cells, and says the new equipment may be easier to permit and install than existing hardware.
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is expected to launch later this year, when the Federal Communications Commission allows wireless network operators to transmit in the spectrum bands between 3550 and 3700 GHz. Operators will be able to use part of this spectrum without paying for a license, but they will have to pay for software that assigns frequency bands and prevents interference.
Verizon says its first use of this spectrum will be to offload network traffic from other spectrum bands. For that it will need outdoor CBRS small cells, and smartphones that can send and receive in the CBRS bands.
Bill Stone, Verizon’s VP for technology development and planning, described the CBRS small cells that Verizon is testing as “a good product for mounting and concealing on poles.” He said he never likes to underestimate the challenges of site acquisition, but he is encouraged by the fact that the CBRS small cells are more compact and less powerful than the small cells Verizon is deploying for lower spectrum bands. Equipment size, weight and power output are usually important to the jurisdictions that issue permits to companies that deploy wireless access points in public spaces.
Stone said the CBRS small cells will include the radio and antenna in one form factor. The baseband processor can also be integrated into the same hardware, but Stone said that he expects most deployments to use a separate baseband unit. He said the BBU can be mounted at the base of a pole or tower, or even further away.
Verizon has not yet released pictures of the new small cells, but it has been testing outdoor small cells made by both Ericsson and Nokia.
Nokia’s FlexiZone multiband outdoor base transceiver station is currently part of Verizon’s CBRS tests in Irving, Texas. The BTS pairs with Nokia’s TD-LTE CBRS RF module, which has a maximum RF power output of 4 watts (2 watts at each transmit port output.)
At the same site, Ericsson is testing a system that aggregates its outdoor and indoor CBRS small cells. The solution uses 4×4 multiple-input, multiple-output antenna elements and 4×20 megahertz carrier aggregation.
Stone said the first deployments are likely to be in areas with relatively high network traffic. He said the network will be capable of moving smartphones onto the CBRS spectrum when they come within range of the small cells, if the phones include CBRS modems.
The CBRS small cells won’t be able to help the network much until a significant number of people upgrade to smartphones that have CBRS modems. Verizon has said it will add these phones to its line-up this year, but hasn’t said which phones those will be.
“3.5 GHz CBRS: Disrupting the Disruptive Spectrum” is a report available through Network Builder Reports that profiles more than 30 CBRS vendors and projects installed CBRS nodes through 2022. It also explains spectrum sharing, mobile network architecture, and CBRS business models. CLICK HERE to order a copy.
Martha DeGrasse is the Publisher of Network Builder Reports. She has worked in business news media for 16 years, most recently as an editor for RCR Wireless News. She is the author of 20 in-depth reports and 2,500 articles on telecom companies and wireless technologies. Follower her on Twitter : @mardegrasse
Samsung Electronics America has been selected by Verizon to assist in advancing their 4G LTE Open RAN initiative. With this collaboration, both companies are working to increase network efficiencies, advance inter-carrier interoperability, and prepare a path for virtualized RAN and 5G commercialization.
Samsung will supply Verizon with equipment including Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) and Baseband Units (BBUs). These key network elements will also support Verizon’s Open RAN initiative by allowing the ability to interwork with other ecosystem providers. All supporting equipment will continue to enable Verizon’s LTE Advanced capabilities as well as current CAT-M and future Narrow Band IoT platforms.
“We are committed to offering our customers a best-in-class network experience through enabling new technology partnerships in an open network ecosystem,” said Ed Chan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Architect, Corporate Network & Technology, Verizon.
“Samsung is excited to support Verizon as they advance their 4G LTE network and build the next generation of wireless networks,” said Mark Louison, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America. “It’s imperative that we as an industry continue to engineer networks, so we can deliver unprecedented, enhanced user experiences as technologies evolve.”
Samsung Networks has been a provider of Verizon femto cells for many years. This latest agreement expands the companies’ relationship to include larger scale 4G LTE Macro gear. This includes incorporating the next generation of Samsung Baseband Units and Remote Radio Heads, with planned deployment in 2018.
The Internet of Things entered a new period of growth in the last year in the enterprise market, as companies moved from the testing stage to full deployment, according to Mark Bartolomeo, Vice President, Connected Solutions – Internet of Things, Verizon.
Bartolomeo gave a keynote at the HetNet EXPO in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he addressed the recently released report, “State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017.”
“I have been waiting 15 years to actually write in the report that we are making progress in the adoption of IoT,” said Bartolomeo. “It is something that we have been looking at for many, many years and working through the issues of standards, security, interoperability and cost.”
Manufacturing grew 84 percent, utilities/energy grew 41 percent, transportation grew 40 percent, smart cities grew 19 percent and healthcare grew 11 percent, according to year-over-year Verizon IoT network connections from 2016 to 2017.
“The reason enterprises are moving from their early adopter phase to full deployment is they have a proven business,” he said. “With the improved business cases, we are seeing the small and medium size enterprise begin to deploy.”
Regulatory compliance is a major factor driving IoT. The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act requires pharmaceutical firms to track the shipments of it drugs.
“Big wireless deployments are underway in the transportation industry to track and trace pharmaceuticals globally to eliminate the $75 billion annual counterfeit drug trade,” Bartolomeo said.
Smart grid technology is moving from the urban centers to rural areas with gas and electric coops deploying 300 million meters to improve their smart energy systems over the next ten years, according to Bartolomeo. For example, Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Peninsula Light Company have deployed Verizon’s Grid Wide Utility Solutions, which is an intelligent energy platform.
Even with movement forward, the IoT industry still must overcome certain barriers. For one, the supplier ecosystem is too fragmented.
“How do we align our suppliers?” Bartolomeo said. “The reason IoT was slow to be adopted for smart grid was that the user had to acquire a meter from one company, communications cards from another and a wireless network from another and also hire systems integrators.”
Additionally, security, which is now a number one concern in the public, has been treated as an afterthought in IoT. “There are not enough standards concerning security,” he said. “In the future, artificial intelligence will be used to monitor the devices looking for security issues.”
The other issue that IoT has had is the cost was too high. However, costs have already dropped due to the deployment of CAT-M technology and the virtualization of the core network. For example, tracking the location and temperature of vaccines for a pharmaceutical company used to require a $300 device. That has now dropped in price below $50. Next year it will get down below $30.
“For IoT to grow, we need to be able to track everything, but today’s economics don’t allow that to occur. We are getting there very quickly. Also we are seeing improvements in battery life,” Bartolomeo said.
Another key is standardization. IoT platforms must be able to support heterogeneous networks, all network topologies, all wireless spectrum, whether it is public and private, according to Bartolomeo. Verizon has been very involved in accelerating adoption of 5G IoT standards.
He was confident that the IoT industry can continue its upward. “Lowering the cost will expand the addressable market, a common platform will bring flexible pricing and the ability to monitor a device over any network topology, and security will bring in a lot of companies that were holding back,” he said.
In face of the most powerful storm recorded in the Atlantic, the tower industry showed that it could take a punch and come back swinging.
Just five days after Hurricane Irma blew through Florida, Verizon’s network stood firm, with close to 97 percent of its facilities in service.
“Our network engineers have been working around the clock to restore service and make repairs to the network, and they won’t rest until the remaining 3 percent of sites are back serving customers,” Russ Preite, Verizon president – southeast market, wrote in a blog post.
The reason cell towers performed so well in the aftermath of Irma has to do with a corporate culture at Verizon that stresses preparedness, according Christopher Desmond, principal engineer for Verizon’s network and in-house drone expert.
“We have a formalized response to adverse weather preparedness with generators, backup generators, and partnerships with refueling and with drone companies,” Desmond said. “We devote an enormous amount of attention to resiliency and redundancy. We elevate equipment, shelters. We ruggedize antennas, electronics and towers, so the network will be available as the area recovers.”
As the storm approached, refueling and drone teams were staged and ready to go. Concrete and steel reinforced “super switches” across in Florida, built to withstand a CAT 5 hurricane, stood ready to keep the system on the air.
Hurricane preparations are a nationwide effort. Verizon brought personnel from South Carolina to support Florida and from Louisiana to support Texas. Network personnel were flown from California to the New York metro area back when Super Storm Sandy hit the Atlantic seaboard in 2012.
“Our Verizon technicians and personnel on the network side support each other across the country in the wake of any event,” Desmond said. “They were able to restore the network in record time.
Verizon’s long-term preparation with power generators and refueling allowed the majority of its cell sites to remain in-service without commercial power. In some cases mobile generators and temporary solutions were deployed for service. Microwave technology was also added where fiber was temporarily interrupted to some cell sites.
“We had hundreds of towers on generator or backup battery power at one point, but still providing service to our customers. That too is in the teens. The network resiliency is a testament to the team’s ability to go out and effect repairs,” he added.
Verizon continues to support government officials and first responders with ongoing recovery efforts statewide, as well as those in the community who need assistance with charging devices and Internet access.
AT&T Responds to Irma with Equipment, Personnel and Support for Public Safety
To restore communications after Hurricane Irma blew through Florida, AT&T deployed 3,000 personnel, 14 cells on light trucks, three emergency communications vehicles providing satellite-based VoIP, Ethernet and Wi-Fi service. The effort also includes mobile command centers, hazmat response vehicles and charging stations.
AT&T is supporting the more than 15,000 public safety responders to Hurricane Irma with priority communications through Dynamic Traffic Management. “We have firemen coming in from across the country and without our communications lines they cannot talk to each other. They are relying on our cell service,” one AT&T employee said. “If we are not placing the strand and cable in the air, no one’s got communications.”
One portable cell site is stationed at the state emergency operations center (EOC), two are positioned in Naples to specifically support public safety and another four of the portable cell sites have been deployed to the Florida Keys. Network assets are also being staged at a local EOC in Miami-Dade.
Even as Hurricane Maria and other events shift the nation’s focus, AT&T, Verizon and others will continue on helping the local populace pick up the pieces, according to Joe Nergon, AT&T Technical Field Services.
“We got a lot of work to do. Hurricane Irma was a huge hurricane,” Nergon said. “We are starting down here and we’re going to move to as many neighborhoods as we can to get this restored for our customers.”
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.
Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies continue to push the LTE speed envelope breaking the Gigabit speed barrier. The companies achieved an industry first with commercial silicon and network infrastructure with 1.07 Gbps download speeds using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE Modem during an Ericsson lab trial.
This 1.07 Gbps achievement builds on Verizon’s recent announcement about Gigabit LTE with support for License Assisted Access (LAA). Also of significance, the 1.07 Gbps speed was achieved using only three 20 megahertz carriers of (Frequency Division Duplex using separate transmit and receive frequencies) spectrum, achieving new levels of spectral efficiency for commercial networks and devices. These efficiencies will enable the delivery of the Gigabit class experience to more customers and lead to new wireless innovations.
The companies achieved the 1.07 Gbps industry milestone by using 12 simultaneous LTE streams, which allow for up to 20 percent increase in peak data rates and capacity with a corresponding improvement in average speeds. Ericsson’s Radio System and LTE software, in concert with a mobile test device based on the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, enabled these high speeds.
The lab tests also used 4×4 MIMO per carrier, 256 QAM per carrier, which enables customer devices and the network to exchange information in large amounts, delivering more bits of data in each transmission.