LTE Unleashed: CBRS Opens New Opportunities

Published on July 17, 2020

LTE Unleashed: CBRS Opens New Opportunities

The Innovation Band – Opening the Door to New Solutions

In January of 2020, the FCC completed the result of years of work to provide a new range of unlicensed spectrum to operators in the US. The frequency band, from 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz, is an unlicensed band open to commercial operators for use in their applications. This band, the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), is often referred to by another name: the innovation band.

The reason for this is simple: new applications and development is happening in this space, addressing existing problems with exciting new approaches. The CBRS band is being used for the development of private LTE networks that take advantage of the performance of LTE, but with the do-it-yourself simplicity of Wi-Fi, and may optionally tie into existing carrier networks.

What this means is LTE installations that enjoy wide range, full private ownership, advanced LTE features like ultra-low latency, and all without the traditional requirement to utilize carrier access for the entirety of the chain of transmission. There is a place for CBRS to work alongside and complement existing technologies, serving unique use cases that set it apart in the wireless ecosystem.

An Example: The Connected Campus

University campuses are a challenging environment from a wireless connectivity perspective. Large numbers of students and faculty are constantly in need of a fast, reliable network, and are constantly on the move. Universities are often large, sprawling across many city blocks, with open courtyard areas that can be difficult to cover with traditional Wi-Fi. And when students leave campus, that coverage stops – and the campus intranet stops as well.

Often on a university campus, a local intranet is critical for access to internal resources. That includes things like university email, research portals, and other restricted-access materials. Wi-Fi access provides the ability to connect users to that local network, whereas other means of internet connectivity (such as LTE) are by necessity on the outside of that intranet and require some sort of tunneling solution, such as VPN access. A long-range, high-bandwidth, reliable and privately-managed wireless solution is what’s needed to provide access to the intranet everywhere within range of campus.

CBRS provides an excellent option here, offering the simplicity of setup that is traditionally the domain of Wi-Fi and the range and coverage traditionally unique to LTE. By placing CBRS access points around campus in strategic locations, whole outdoor areas, as well as the surrounding city, can be blanketed in intranet access that would previously only be accessible directly on campus property.

This is critical because work, study, and meetings aren’t exclusively done on campus. Off-campus properties like restaurants, coffee shops, and more are frequently where collaboration and work take place.  By providing more coverage and ease of access to critical internal resources over CBRS, universities improve the quality of their service, and ultimately significantly improve the student experience.  Solutions like this, which enable a more direct ownership and control over LTE data, are being devised within this uniquely capable “innovation band.”

New, Creative Ways to Connect with CBRS

This is only one example of how network operators can find new, unique ways to add new connectivity with LTE solutions in the CBRS band. Hospitals, large outdoor venues, utility operators and more can take advantage of the band for LPWAN that enjoys longer range than Wi-Fi, isn’t subject to carrier data charges, and is easy to install and manage.

CBRS enables LTE devices to provide coverage areas and connectivity for a local network, or even route that traffic through an existing cellular carrier connection. This ease of installation and management makes it possible to deploy LTE as a solution where it was previously impractical.

CBRS solutions make it possible to take traffic that was only possible via cellular and instead use local connections to save on cellular data and bandwidth. Connect devices within your coverage area directly to your local network on CBRS, and fall back to cellular carrier connections when leaving your personal coverage area. This flexibility saves cost, can improve quality of service within your bounded area, and allows you to privately manage your data.

Unlicensed for Free, or Register for Higher Priority

It’s important to note that CBRS operates with two available licensing schemes, which provide increasingly higher levels of traffic priority and increased access. There is also a third level for existing users of the frequency band.

The first option is the General Authorized Access tier. Its advantage is that it’s free, and allows users access to any unused portion of the spectrum. The disadvantage is that higher-tier operators are prioritized, so if your application demands the lowest latency and the highest throughput, unlicensed operation might be insufficient.

The second option is the Priority Access tier. It’s licensed, and those licenses are to be assigned in a traditional competitive bidding format. These licenses grant a non-renewable reservation of a 10 MHz channel for three years. Up to seven of these may be granted within a single census tract, a maximum of four per operator.

The third is the Incumbent Access tier, which is meant to protect existing operations in the band. This includes US Navy radar operators, fixed satellite service users, and any others which previously were established in the frequency range. They’re grandfathered for up to 5 years as well.

Proven Antenna Solutions – Perfectly Suited for CBRS

Laird Connectivity is THE Antenna Authority, with over 1600 off-the-shelf antennas for all of today’s most demanding wireless applications. We also provide antennas which are suited for the CBRS frequency range and are available in different styles and mounts, suitable for ceiling mount, vehicle mount, outdoor sector, and device internal mounts.

Family

Part Number

Type

Frequency

S Series

S3307BPNF

Outdoor omni

CBRS Band

OC Series

OC35506P

Outdoor omni

CBRS Band

SJ Series

SJS330065-17-001

Outdoor sector

CBRS Band

CFSA Series

CFSA69383P

iDAS ceiling

Multiband inc CBRS

CFD Series

CFD69383P

iDAS ceiling

Multiband inc CBRS

CMD Series

CMD64923P

iDAS ceiling

Multiband inc CBRS

CFSA Series

CFSA35606P

iDAS ceiling

Multiband inc CBRS

CMS Series

CMS38606

iDAS ceiling

Multiband inc CBRS

Gar

VFH69383

Mobile / vehicular

Multiband inc CBRS

Barracuda

VFP69383

Mobile / vehicular

Multiband inc CBRS

Revie Flex 600

EFF6060A3S-xxMHF1

Internal + cable

Multiband inc CBRS

Revie Flex 700

(coming soon)

EFF6989A3S-19MHF1

Internal + cable

Multiband inc CBRS

Our antennas are rugged, reliable, and ready for any application. The antenna experts at Laird Connectivity can customize any of our antenna products with different connectors, cable lengths, color, and more. And if you need a fully custom antenna to fit your particular design, we’re here to help. Our RF design experts have decades of experience bringing reliable, high-quality antenna designs to market.

Visit our CBRS page to learn more about our CBRS-ready antennas.