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CBRS kicks off in the U.S. – unleashes industrial innovation opportunities

Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), branded OnGo, is launching Initial Commercial Deployment today, 18th September 2019. It’s a new allocation of radio spectrum, approved for shared use in the U.S., intended to encourage innovation in the wireless market. CBRS will create many opportunities for new users and new use cases, notably for industrial enterprises as a means of accelerating the Industry 4.0 transformation.

warehouse with boxes
Chris Wallace 

Strategic Product Manager

Category, topic & hashtags

CBRS will enable private cellular networks, as a complementary technology to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, etc., for industrial automation. High reliability, security, deterministic quality of service and scalable capacity can serve many existing use cases better than other wireless protocols that run on unlicensed spectrum. This will allow enterprises to “cut the cord” for applications currently using wired connections, eliminating expensive cabling costs and enabling greater agility to reconfigure a line. Initial OnGo deployments will use proven 4G/LTE technology, while laying the groundwork for even more advanced capabilities with future evolution to 5G.

CBRS will support applications such as robotics and automated vehicles that demand high-availability and predictable latency to operate. It’ll provide the ability to handle IoT sensors on a massive scale and improve productivity through the seamless mobility of vehicles and devices between indoor and outdoor locations. With the network and devices fully under private enterprise control, CBRS will create the reliable wireless infrastructure needed to deliver improved business outcomes, such as greater efficiency, safety and security.

Three tiers of access

Radio-frequency spectrum is a fixed resource, and there is practically none that is not currently being used. This was the case with CBRS spectrum, and the tiered access rules have taken into account incumbent users such as the U.S. Navy and fixed satellite applications. In the new shared spectrum model, incumbent users will have highest priority access. In practical terms, the impact of incumbent users on private enterprise networks is expected to be extremely minimal. Public auctions for a middle-priority tier, Priority Access License (PAL) are expected to be conducted in 2020. PAL licensing allows service providers and spectrum brokers to secure a guaranteed amount of spectrum for use in a given geographical area. The lowest priority level is General Authorized Access (GAA), which is licensed-by-rule to permit open, flexible access to the band for the widest possible group of potential users. GAA users are permitted to use any portion of the 3.5 GHz band not assigned to a higher tier user.

All of these tiers are completely managed by the Spectrum Access System (SAS), which fairly allocates available spectrum to all registered users. Unlike unlicensed spectrum, CBRS users must be registered with a SAS provider. This assures access to available spectrum, free from contention and interference.

Experience matters

Enterprises that want to access this spectrum can do so independent of communications service providers (CSPs). However, CSPs have relevant expertise with 3GPP networks and are ideal ecosystem partners for enterprises in this area. For instance, for enterprises setting up indoor private cellular networks, CSPs can enable seamless, wide-area mobility when enterprise devices leave the private network. CSPs also have the scale and regional or national reach to secure PAL spectrum which can be sub-leased to individual enterprises.

Ericsson has developed its Industry Connect solution to enable enterprises to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by CBRS. It’s an easy-to-use cellular connectivity platform that accelerates Industry 4.0 digital transformations by enabling secure, reliable coverage with high device density, predictable latency, and a clear path to 5G.

Industry Connect will enable enterprises – and entire industries – to harness this shared spectrum. It will power reliable cellular connectivity across factories, warehouses and adjacent outdoor areas, expanding the range of devices and use cases that can be unplugged from fixed wired infrastructure.

While CBRS may be kicking off in the U.S., make no mistake - it’s a development that’s being heard globally. Regulatory agencies around the world are eager to see how shared spectrum will open new opportunities for both in-building wireless and outdoor mobile use.

With the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences release of its final testing reports, Director Keith Gremban blogged: “The completed tests will drive progress toward initial commercial deployments in the band, prized for its excellent mix of capacity and coverage capabilities. With 4G LTE technology for the band available today, industry has already begun to develop specifications to support 5G deployments.”

Learn more about CBRS and how Ericsson can help bring better connectivity to industries.

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