Home Networking Navigating through CBRS

Navigating through CBRS

by Samantha Kalany

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

When it comes to breaking down just how network connectivity has expanded, from highly-structured government foundations to the general public, CBRS holds a pretty large reach. CBRS or Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum is a band of radio-frequency spectrum from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz that the FCC has designated for sharing among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority licensees, and generally authorized, which is unlicensed.

Incumbents – Historically held exclusive rights to the band (Satellite Stations & Navy Bases)
Priority Licensees – Licenses will be auctioned off to allow users the band in particular U.S. counties so long as they don’t interfere with the incumbents and tolerate any interference that may come from incumbents.
Generally authorized – this access grants users with the right to use the band as long as they don’t interfere with the other two categories of users.

The Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) detects the flow of CBRS. Devices that want to pull from this offering, will place a request to a cloud-based Spectrum Access System (SAS) to reserve unused channels in a particular geographic area. When devices hold the permission to use channels, they will put them back into the general pool once their usage is up, so that SAS can draw from them for future requests.

Applications Utilized

CBRSCBRS will be used to replace last-mile fiber access, deliver fixed wireless services and even point-to-multipoint offerings. Managed service providers could potentially exploit it for IoT connectivity and event to supplement Wi-Fi replacement or coverage. LTE services could hit 1Gbps indoors and maybe even 5 or 10 times that for outdoor usage with line-of-sight access.

Video – Surveillance or Computer Vision Applications
Real-time Control – Building Automation, HVAC
Push-to-Talk – Security, operational voice such as in healthcare
Mains Powered Sensors – Temperature, air quality
Gateway based IoT – Indoor Positioning, where sensors talk to a local gateway

Before CBRS, ensuring cellular network had the strength to run operations inside a building required that of a Distributor Antenna System (DAS), which was typically carrier-specific. CBRS systems have the potential to offer a “neutral host” for LTE/5G connections which would connect cellular devices (phones/IoT Sensors) via the CBRS radio infrastructure and the onto the carrier’s packet core network. Using CBRS could prove a more reliable connection than trying to connect from the basement HVAC controller to a cell tower 6 miles away… examples.

Neutral Host IoT Connectivity: Direct-to-Cellular IoT device (pharmacy temperature monitor in a hospital) that is installed in an enterprise, using CBRS as the primary cellular connection, could be free if the device was provisioned to participate directly on the enterprise of the CBRS system.

A Striking Alternative to Wi-Fi

CBRSCBRS 4G/5G systems utilize radio technology that is much more advanced than traditional Wi-Fi setups and can cover 3-4 times the range, even at equivalent power levels. IT can be relieved of their largest headaches when it comes to managing Wi-Fi access and security issues.

Broadband Phone and Data Services – IoT is not the central use case for CBRS. It is the ability to improve phone performance in buildings. IoT networking becomes a nice-to-have add-on for CBRS investments, at least at this stage. Alternatives such as laptops and TVs are likely to be seen in the future of CBRS-enabled buildings.

CBRS can mean a lot for various vertical industries, from Retail/Hospitality, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Airports/Travel, and Educational facilities. The wireless landscape will have changed so drastically and for the better, thanks to the help of CBRS-enabled connections. There will be more opportunities to provide these types of capabilities. From having access to private LTE, achieving higher cost savings, better coverage, technological advancements, and potentially even an option to increase revenue streams, the future of CBRS will be one for the books. 

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