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Calling the future: Achieving the first 5G NR call on the OnGo CBRS spectrum

The FCC has called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) the “innovation band,” and there’s no doubt that it’s opening up important new opportunities and use cases. CBRS, shared spectrum from 3.55GHz to 3.7GHz, is sparking innovation in entertainment, education, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, smart cities and more. What further potential could be unleashed if we paired CBRS with another powerful communication technology, 5G New Radio (NR)?

Head of E2E 5G Systems

Multi family Tower Radio

Head of E2E 5G Systems

Head of E2E 5G Systems

Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. teamed up to see. In a significant achievement for the industry, they completed the first over-the-air 5G NR call on CBRS.

Until now, CBRS has been operating primarily on 4G/LTE. Upgrading CBRS to 5G lifts the ceiling on what can be accomplished. 5G offers higher capacity and throughput, low-latency, enhanced reliability and security and greater connection density. The combination of 5G NR over CBRS will enable a wide range of new applications for enterprises and industry verticals, from mobile robotics and connected manufacturing facilities to Augmented reality (AR) industrial applications. In turn, 5G over CBRS will support the proliferation of private networks, further propelling the Industry 4.0 evolution.

That’s why this first 5G NR call is so significant. This wasn’t an in-lab simulation. It was an actual over-the-air field trial using Ericsson’s NR radios and a smartphone form-factor test device. The field trial took place at Ericssonʼs North America headquarters in Plano, Texas, utilizing the Ericsson 5G Distributed Innovation Network together with the smartphone form-factor test device powered by Snapdragon® 888 5G Mobile Platform with the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System.

5G NR over CBRS makes more possible.

What’s more, the standalone 5G network configuration with rooftop radios allowed for a variety of real-life test scenarios. By using intra- and inter-band mobility and carrier aggregation, the Ericsson-Qualcomm Technologies’ team combined CBRS and C-Band for even higher capacity and throughput. The team did extensive testing of different combinations of spectrum and technologies to expand capacity impressively.

5G CBRS applications

Expanding mid-band spectrum

In their perpetual effort to meet escalating demand, service providers are continuously seeking ways to expand their available capacity. 5G over CBRS is an ideal way to expand mid-band spectrum. SPs can use it as off-load spectrum to double or even triple throughput.

Fixed wireless access for rural and suburban areas

The pandemic puts a harsh spotlight on the digital divide in the U.S., particularly in rural and suburban areas. Workers transitioned to work from home, students were forced to learn from home, and patients and caregivers turned to telemedicine. Digital access to information and services often determined success or failure. Closing the digital divide by 2030 is a national priority.

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) using 5G over CBRS can play a key role in bringing broadband to underserved communities. It offers a practical and affordable path to broadband for:

  • rural school districts, students studying at home (e-learning) and communities
  • small businesses
  • smart farming
  • remote healthcare

Private networks for industry

In the evolution to Industry 4.0, the network must be ready to handle massive numbers of Internet of Things (IoT) devices—autonomous vehicles, drones, robots and sensors—and the river of data they generate. Private networks based on 5G over CBRS offer the high-capacity and high-throughput, low-latency, enhanced reliability and security needed for today’s and tomorrow’s Smart Factory.

A catalyst for innovation

This field trial brings us one step closer to the commercial availability of 5G services on the CBRS. Both Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies offer a full suite of solutions to support customers on their journey as industries look to cellular for better security, low latency, and reliability to support massive numbers of IoT devices. The promise of 5G NR in the OnGo CBRS band opens up nearly unlimited potential for enterprise applications and industries, ushering in a new era of innovation with this transformative shared spectrum.

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Snapdragon is a trademark or registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated.

Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch and expansion of 5G. We invent foundational technologies that transform how the world connects, computes and communicates.

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