Product News

Access’ Next Steps with Citizens Broadband Radio Service

If you’ve ever tried to make a call in a hotel or at a conference, only to realize there is no connectivity, or it is too slow to use, you understand the importance of having high capacity wireless networks. We have been working with operators and hardware manufacturers towards a radically new spectrum sharing technique to make bandwidth readily abundant and accessible in the U.S.

The shared spectrum approach is being applied to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band (3.55GHz-3.7GHz). CBRS will allow large venues such as enterprises, concert halls, sports arenas, theme parks, shopping malls — and yes even hotels and conference centers — to easily deploy private, wireless LTE networks without spending billions to lease spectrum. This will enable more innovation in wireless applications and products going forward.

There are three requirements for the CBRS band to be ready for prime time: (1) a Spectrum Access System (SAS), as mandated by the FCC to manage spectrum sharing; (2) a robust hardware ecosystem; and (3) the deployment of wireless networks. Today, we’ve hit major milestones in the first two requirements: we’ve completed an end-to-end test of consumer devices connecting to CBRS base stations, and formed a trusted tester program to ensure interoperability between CBRS base stations and the Access SAS.

The availability of CBRS consumer devices isn’t so far off. In fact, we’ve demonstrated two device firsts in the band by showing end-to-end operation of phones using Qualcomm (Snapdragon X20 Gigabit LTE modem) and Spreadtrum SOC chipsets, as well as MiFi devices from Juni/Infomark. This is a major milestone for the CBRS band. While it will take time for CBRS phones to be pervasive in the market, MiFi devices provide an excellent bridge in the near term.

On the network hardware side of things, we are introducing the Trusted Tester Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (CBSD) Program. Trusted testers can now sign up to run a series of self-service tests to ensure their base station equipment works with the Access SAS. The Access SAS communicates to these radios and provisions spectrum in the band in accordance with FCC regulations, and ultimately makes sure that the spectrum gets used fairly and efficiently. Our first batch of successful pre-testers include Nokia, Juni, ZTE, Sercomm, Ericsson, and Ruckus Wireless, representing a diverse group of manufacturers, with experience spanning from small cells to macro cells, as well as indoor and outdoor use cases. SAS certification is expected to happen this year, so we are building the foundation for  a functioning and collaborative environment now.

We’ll continue to work with industry leaders and new participants to realize the promise of shared spectrum, which we believe is the key to abundant and low cost wireless. The industry is ready for private LTE deployments, and this year has set the foundation for this, and future innovation.

See you at Mobile World Congress!

Posted by Mathew Varghese, Product Lead for Mobility

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