CBRS: Reasons to take advantage of the shared spectrum space
CBRS has several characteristics that make it attractive for multiple use cases.
Propagation – Since CBRS uses an actively managed spectrum access system, it can use terrain and radio propagation data to control how devices make use of the shared spectrum. This increases efficiency by enabling many more devices to operate simultaneously across the same radio spectrum while minimizing interference between them.
Cost – Because of the way the CBRS spectrum is licensed and controlled, it makes a much more affordable network for small scale and new entrant operators for both indoor and outdoor use. Priority Access Licenses (PALs) are limited to a 3 or 6 year duration, are restricted geographically, and there is no guarantee of renewal. So, this helps avoid license monopolies by any one operator and keeps license costs down.
Rapid access – New operators no longer need to wait for license auctions. Tier 3 General Authorized Access (GAA) is licensed by FCC rules where operators are permitted to use any part of the 3550-3700 MHz band not assigned to a higher tier user. GAA users can simply deploy a device and turn it on to register with the Spectrum Access System (SAS) to become fully operational.
Greater capacity – CBRS enables more capacity for individual CBRS devices (CBSDs) by optimizing spectrum access and ensuring devices are not subject to radio interference. Individual operators can utilize concatenated channels (up to a maximum of 40 MHz for PAL users) to increase available bandwidth.
Security and reliability – LTE based CBRS provides an industry proven solution for secure and reliable wireless data communications.
CBRS use cases include (but are not limited to):
Last mile access networks – CBRS provides a convenient way to offer wireless ‘last-mile’ access especially for some types of rural broadband services, where laying fiber can be prohibitively expensive. This is often called Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).
LTE network densification – For many operators, building out the network to provide more capacity around traffic hotspots can be challenging. CBRS enables many more small cells to be deployed cost effectively in busy public areas such as railway stations and shopping malls.
In-building (LTE) femto cells – CBRS has defined two classes of device known as Class A and Class B, with the main difference being their RF power levels. Class A devices are low power (EIRP <1watt) and have a relatively short range by comparison to Class B devices (EIRP <50watts). Because Class A devices have reduced propagation characteristics with lower interference, they are well suited for indoor coverage and floor-by-floor applications.
Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT requires high numbers of connected devices operating across high density networks. Applications such as Smart Home, Connected Office, Smart City, and Industrial IoT all depend on device connectivity over a wide area at an affordable cost. IoT devices often only need occasional network access and CBRS can offer a solution for IoT connectivity due to its autonomously managed access system. This is being promoted by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Coalition.
Low range small cells – New entrants such as multiple system operators (MSOs or cable companies) are looking for cost effective ways to deploy their own LTE networks to compete with mobile network operators. CBRS offers a realistic alternative for new entrants to deploy their own radio access networks using small cell technology. For example, Comcast, a member of the CBRS Alliance, has requested a license to test wireless networks for both fixed and mobile access in the Philadelphia area using CBRS technology. Meanwhile, Verizon has been proactive in testing both indoor and outdoor small cells that will operate in the 3.5 GHz spectrum bands, and its first use case will be outdoor small cells used to offload traffic from lower spectrum bands to improve the user experience.
Wireless backhaul – Large numbers of small cells and wireless access points need to be connected back to the core network without the need to deploy expensive fiber. Line of Sight (LoS) and Point to Point (P2P) backhaul networks can offer a practical solution where a CBRS radio spectrum could be utilized.
Venue or stadium networks – Many venue owners are considering CBRS to provide their own access networks as an alternative or extension to distributed antenna systems (DAS). The National Football League (NFL) for example, has applied for a license to test CBRS at their NFL team stadiums in the U.S.
Neutral host RAN – A neutral host network provider can bridge the gap between mobile operators and enterprise organizations who don’t want to manage the complexity of their own wireless networks. Neutral host providers can make use of a CBRS spectrum to offer access to multiple operators over small scale networks within large public venues, university campuses and enterprises with limited IT resources.
Enterprise private LTE networks – Many large organizations such as hotels, airports and railway stations are looking for ways to deploy their own privately managed LTE networks. Due to its low cost, low interference and high bandwidth, CBRS can provide the solution. Examples include healthcare, manufacturing and transportation hubs such as the city and port of Los Angeles where a private, wide area and highly secure wireless network is essential.
Although our list here is not exhaustive, it provides an example of the many varied use cases, which CBRS can support through its innovative approach to spectrum sharing. In our next blog, we will discuss the CBRS radio spectrum and take a closer look at the Spectrum Access System (SAS).
Learn more about Amdocs SpectrumONE service for CBRS.
CBRS: New Spectrum and Flexible Indoor and Outdoor Mobile Solution, Mobile Experts
Learning to share CBRS in the 3.5 GHz band changes how we use spectrum, Senza Fili
NFL getting into the CBRS game files for proof-of-concept testing at stadiums, Fierce Wireless
Comcast eyes 3.5Ghz CBRS for both fixed and mobile applications including commercial handsets, Fierce Wireless