CBRS Progress Outlined on Standards, Certification, Brand

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) advocates today outlined progress that has been made on developing standards, a certification program, and a commercial brand to deploy devices in the 3.5 gigahertz band, even though spectrum access systems (SASs) and environmental sensing capability (ESC) databases have not yet been approved by the FCC and the Commission is considering modifying its rules for priority access licenses (PALs).

The Wireless Innovation Forum and the CBRS Alliance held a workshop here this afternoon in conjunction with the 2018 Connectivity Expo, which was organized by the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

The technology-neutral WInnForum has developed 10 standards to facilitate the baseline deployment of commercial operations in the CBRS spectrum (TR Daily, Jan. 31), while the alliance, which is focused on CBRS use cases and business opportunities, has established a certification program for LTE equipment using the band and the OnGo brand (TR Daily, May 8). Representatives at today’s workshop said the groups complement each other.

Preston Marshall, engineering director for Google LLC and vice chair of the CBRS Alliance, told TR Daily that it is “unfortunate” that it has taken as long as it has for the FCC to approve SAS administrators, including Google, but he added that the timing is “not an impediment.” He said the expectation had been that SAS administrators would be approved before equipment was certified. Instead, that will occur at the same time. He noted that SAS administrators wouldn’t have anything to do until equipment was in the market.

WInnForum Chief Executive Officer Lee Pucker noted that his group has proceeded with its standards activities independent of an FCC proceeding in which it is expected to modify its PAL rules. “From a technical perspective, we don’t believe the changes in the rules will significantly impact what’s getting certified,” he said. “It just changes some of the parameters under which the certified equipment will work.”

He added that “the PAL auctions aren’t going to be until next year anyway,” and the FCC’s rulemaking has not slowed up other work on general authorized access (GAA) spectrum. Mr. Pucker also said the WInnForum has completed test code that it plans to deliver to the FCC next week.

As for approvals of SAS administrators, he noted, “there’s still an ongoing discussion” between entities that want to be administrators and the FCC.

In remarks at this afternoon’s event, speakers stressed various use cases for CBRS spectrum, including those dealing with network densification, mobile virtual network operator, neutral host, private LTE network, and fixed wireless.

“This band is uniquely tailored to create opportunities for new types of businesses,” as well as providing spectrum to existing spectrum users, Mr. Marshall said.

In particular, he hailed the promise of neutral host networks, where a single network supports a number of entities pursuing a variety of business cases. Such an approach will have an “emerging revenue model,” Mr. Marshall said. “We don’t know what it is yet.”

He also cited the benefits of the mid-band spectrum for providing coverage indoors and said that the size of PAL licensing areas — a current topic of controversy — shouldn’t be as important on indoor deployment due to signal path loss, or reduction in power. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily