PRIVATE LTE / CBRS: A PRIMER FOR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service. It is a piece of 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range that the Department of Defense uses—mainly for ship borne radar. As demand for wireless spectrum—a finite and increasingly scarce resource—grew, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) established CBRS in April 2015. The previously mentioned 150 MHz spectrum became available to private organizations to share with existing military radar and fixed satellite stations. Additionally, the CBRS spectrum is technology-dependent and can be used for LTE, 5G and other kinds of wireless deployments.
Although the CBRS spectrum is becoming available for commercial use, incumbent users have been guaranteed interference protection and continuous availability. The private, commercial users can access the CBRS spectrum through a cloud-based allocation service. Once private users are granted access, they will have exclusive use of the spectrum at their properties. The CBRS band has already been in commercial use in other parts of the world and now that it’s becoming readily available in the U.S., equipment vendors are expected to create more solutions that can put CBRS into commercial use. The CBRS band is projected to be available for initial use by enterprises and organizations in late 2019.
A Private LTE Overview
A big reason there’s been so much anticipation around the CBRS deployment is the opportunity it brings CRE owners to have their own private LTE (long term evolution) networks.
Today, private LTE networks, including CBRS, provide enterprises with a unique opportunity as they can deploy a managed LTE network without working with (and paying for) a traditional cellular operator. CRE owners and managers can put a private LTE network to work in their building to provide whoever is in their building with high-quality wireless service, whether its tenants, hotel guests, fliers at the airport, or warehouse workers.
Private LTE networks have opened the door to infinite opportunities for CRE owners and their in-building connectivity. Unused spectrum will be available for commercial use, but incumbent users will not have to worry about interference and the spectrum will remain continuously available to them. The private, commercial users will be able to access CBRS spectrum via a cloud-based allocation service, and single or combinations of 10 MHz channels,150 MHz spectrum and 1 Gbps+ speeds will be available to them. After access is granted, private users will have exclusive use of the spectrum at their respective locations.
Private LTE networks are currently answering an expanding demand for bandwidth that will provide commercial real estate (CRE) owners and managers, enterprises, organizations and small businesses with a variety of new opportunities.
Currently, there are several spectrum options that allow private LTE networks to be implemented including:
• Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), which offers shared wireless broadband use of the 3.5 GHz Band.
• Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)—MVNOs support private LTE networks; for in-building IoT applications in particular. MVNOs typically work with bigger cellular operators and can utilize their spectrum and network services to support private applications.
• Outside sourced licensed spectrum—Organizations besides the mobile network operators often have usable licensed spectrum for private LTE.
• Mobile Network Operator (MNO) licensed spectrum—enterprises may also obtain spectrum from the cellular operator to use for private LTE networks. This course is more often done internationally, however.
How the CBRS Band Works
The image below offers an overview of the CBRS band. Priority Access Licenses (PALs) aren’t included in the “top” 50 MHz of the band as that spectrum is solely for General Authorized Access (GAA) users and federal Incumbent Access users.
CBRS licensing comprises three tiers: Incumbent Access, Priority Access and General Authorized Access (GAA). Here’s a breakdown of each:
• Incumbent Access: This tier pertains to authorized federal and existing Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) users that are operating in the 3.5 GHz Band. Such users include the U.S. Navy, Registered Fixed Satellite Service earth stations and numerous WISPs throughout the U.S. WISPs’ grandfathered access lasts five years effective from the 2020 ruling date. However, by 2021 WISPs’ will have to comply with the “Part 96 rules” governing band use or end their operations.
• Priority Access Licenses (PALs): In this tier, licenses are assigned through competitive bidding in the 3550-3650 MHz part of the band. PAL auctions are expected to begin in the early part of 2020. The FCC has not said what the spectrum auction’s exact date will be however. Every PAL auction winner will be allowed to use a 10 MHz channel in a county for 10 years. Seven total PALs maximum may be assigned in a given county.
• General Authorized Access (GAA): This tier allows for open, unlicensed access to an 80 MHz segment of the band if the PAL and IA licensees are operating in their licensed and protected parts of the band. When those uses are not there, GAA uses are permitted to use all of the 150 MHz, or some portion of it. CBRS’ initial available services will be based on the GAA.
Private LTE Defined
Simply put, a private LTE network is a dedicated-use network that uses LTE for the radio connection. LTE is currently used for 4G cellular networks around the globe, and if a private LTE network uses the same equipment, it can be deployed to support specific areas, people or an application. A distribution center could use a private LTE network to support Internet of Things (IoT) applications, security cameras or connections to machines. Meanwhile, private LTE could be used in a “smart” commercial building to manage the property’s lighting, HVAC and security. It could also provide tenants with a dedicated network for their use.
Private LTE networks also free CRE owners from relationships with cellular carriers, but they can substitute that with a relationship with an MNO that can help them to operate their own network. Before private LTE networks became a possibility, CRE owners had no choice but to work with them if they wanted a private network. Private LTE networks are typically self-contained and can be set up that way for security purposes. Other times, a connection to the cellular operators’ network will be required in order to support call and data delivery.
When an enterprise decides to move forward with a private LTE network deployment, the main question is about what spectrum the network will use. It turns out there’s no true answer, as there are multiple options available including:
• MVNO– In this instance, the parent cellular operator’s spectrum and network will be used. If the parent network is overcrowded anywhere, the private LTE network’s performance will suffer. Specific in-building wireless equipment has been deployed to support the MVNO’s frequencies and combat the congestion issue.
• Licensed spectrum from the MNO– Enterprises can get spectrum from the cellular operator for private LTE networks, but many cell operators do not have much spectrum available and paid a large sum (hundreds of millions of dollars) for the licenses. So, if any part of that spectrum goes towards private LTE, the MNO will probably want a significant return on their original investment.
• Outside sourced licensed spectrum– Some companies that are deploying private LTE networks are doing so with their own spectrum for applications and services—including in-building. In these scenarios, the spectrum in question is similar to what cellular networks used. That means a lot of the cellular devices that are currently available can be used with the bands too, with a small modification. Carrier aggregation—pulling spectrum from different bands into one big channel—allows three frequencies to be combined with CBRS if more bandwidth is needed.
• CBRS– With the additional 150 MHz of spectrum available in the U.S., vendors are likely to be encouraged to create more equipment that can put this spectrum into commercial use. Currently, the CBRS band is expected to be available for enterprises and organizations to use by late third quarter or early fourth quarter 2019. The final tests are finished and reports have been submitted to the FCC. The last step is final approval to deploy networks and services.
Components of CBRS
CBRS has two key networks that make the band’s use possible. Those networks include:
• Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC): Sensors that will be put close to IA sites to detect incumbent activities. Once the ESC sensor finds incumbent activity, it informs the Spectrum Access System (SAS), CBRS’ other key component. After the SAS is informed, it instructs commercial CBRS access points to stop operation or transfer the devices’ operations to channels that won’t interfere with federal use.
In September 2018, Federated Wireless said its ESC network would be live for initial CBRS deployments. A month later, Google and CommScope said they would operate an ESC sensor network together.
• Spectrum Access System (SAS): SAS serves as CBRS’ “brain.” The SAS exists between FCC database and existing users, PAL licensees and people who registered their commercial CBRS access points (CBSDs) so they could use the band’s GAA portion. The SAS uses advanced analysis and computing technologies to grant access to any available shared spectrum. SAS uses its ESC to find incumbent users in order to prevent commercial user interference. SAS also authorizes CBRS devices to access a maximum of 15 channels of 10 MHz spectrum.
Private organizations have to come to an agreement with at least one SAS operator to access private shared CBRS spectrum. SAS operators will suggest channels in order to help prevent interference and ensure quality service—particularly outdoors as well as public venues where other spectrum users may be operating. CRE owners and organizations can benefit from SAS guidance so they can manage their access point deployment efficiently and decrease interference.
The next graphic displays how the SAS fits in the CBRS architecture.
CBRS can only access spectrum once it’s requested it from the SAS. The SAS determines which channels CBRS may use.
In December 2019, the FCC conditionally approved the following SAS administrators:
• Federated Wireless
Google, Federated Wireless and CommScope were approved initial use in July 2019.
End User Devices
End user, or end point, devices are one of the key components needed for a private LTE network deployment, along with a radio system and access points as well as core network services. End user devices act as a “service terminal” of sorts—they connect the user and the IoT data to the wireless spectrum. These devices include smartphones, tablets, laptops, internal communication systems or applications, modems, cameras, gateways, routers to other networks and systems or IoT solutions.
It’s important to note that the chipset inside any of the previously mentioned devices must support the 3.5 GHz CBRS band either as is, or by adding a module. Some devices may also need software updates from operators to enable CBRS. There are currently a few devices that are CBRS ready: Google’s Pixel devices and the Apple iPhone 11 are two examples of mobile phones that can operate on the CBRS spectrum. According to wireless and mobile communications market strategy consultancy iGR, Juni/Infomark and Sercomm’s Mi-Fi devices also support CBRS. Additionally, iGR believes that more end user devices that support CBRS will continue to be introduced in late 2019. For the time being, enterprises can use peripheral devices and embedded modules to enable their mobile workforce, including installers, deliveries, sales and service entities along with numerous applications and services.
It could be easy to confuse CBRS Devices (CBSDs) with end user devices, but the two are not interchangeable. End user devices, such as mobile phones, are devices that can be used on a CBRS network. Meanwhile, a CBSD is simply a radio access point that operates on a Priority Access of General Authorized Access basis. They are the CBRS version of small cells or a Wi-Fi access point.
This chart comprises two categories: low power (Category A) and high power (Category B). According to the FCC, most Category A devices will be deployed indoors or at street level:
The FCC expects Category A devices to be most prevalent. Regardless of what the most amount of permitted power may be, the SAS can instruct the CBSDs to lower their power output in order to prevent or minimize the potential for interference.
It’s often asked who is providing CBRS devices. The fact is a lot of vendors have developed them.
In February 2017, Google said it finished its first round of testing its SAS devices that companies Nokia, Juni, ZTE, Sercomm, Ericsson and Ruckus Wireless built. That same year, Federated Wireless tested its SAS with numerous vendors including: Telrad Networks, Airspan and Siemens, whose products were WISP focused.
More vendors have developed CBSDs since then. In September 2018, 11 network vendors took part in the CBRS Alliance’s Interoperability Test event:
• BLiNQ Networks
• Gemtek Technology Co.
• Juni Global
• Sercomm Corporation
• Telrad Networks
Private LTE/CBRS Use Cases
In September 2019, the CBRS Alliance celebrated the launch of the Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) of its OnGo™ service in the 3.5 GHz band. OnGo is the trademarked brand of the CBRS Alliance referencing technologies and deployments based on spectrum sharing. According to the CBRS Alliance, “OnGo” describes the shared spectrum technology and services running in the 3.5 GHz band, while “CBRS” pertains to the 3.5 GHz band and/or the FCC Part 96 Rule that established the band.
As part of the launch, the CBRS Alliance shared a handful of case studies involving enterprises that had put OnGo to work.
• One of the case studies featured was the American Dream Entertainment & Retail Complex in East Rutherford, NJ. ANS Advanced Network Services and JMA Wireless worked together to bring OnGo to the 3 million square foot entertainment venue and make private and dedicated use spectrum a reality so guest experience systems can operate outside of public-use Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Going forward, additional uses are expected to evolve for fixed and mobile devices such as video cameras, digital displays, vehicle connectivity, internal use communications and IoT for facility operations.
• Dallas Love Field Airport in Dallas, TX became the first airport to deploy CBRS Alliance’s OnGo technology. The airport will use OnGo Solutions to provide high-performance and low-latency connectivity to its customers, partners and employees. The technology will also allow travelers to communicate with the outside world as well as with the airport and airlines more efficiently. It will also let airport employees communicate with each other. OnGo provides Dallas Love Airport with the opportunity to improve its customer experience and internal operations at the same time.
• Aristotle Unified Communications is using OnGo solutions to bring cost-affordable, reliable connectivity to rural parts of Arkansas that often don’t have broadband service. With OnGo, Aristotle Unified Communications is giving these underserved areas an alternative to fiber to the home, which is nearly impossible for a home that’s in the middle of a 50,000-acre farm. OnGo’s presence is predominately to help the farming community so it can perform precision farming and agriculture.
There’s potential for many more of these types of use cases thanks to private LTE’s existence, since it offers a chance for LTE networks to be deployed without needing to purchase services from a main cellular operator or, depending on which option is selected, use licensed spectrum. Here are some opportunities private LTE offers CRE and enterprise owners as well as managers:
• Enterprise-run private networks: These networks are considered private because the enterprise controls what users and which devices can access them. According to iGR, enterprises and venues may shift their data traffic to a private LTE network and use Wi-Fi to address their guests and visitors’ data usage. A great deal of private LTE networks are expected to use licensed spectrum, but iGR believes the GAA portion of the CBRS band will enable a lot of private LTE deployments.
• Internet of Things (IoT): Internet of Things are considered a subset of private LTE networks, operator-run LTE or possibly third-party LTE. CBRS networks and licensed spectrum can be used to support IoT devices inside buildings or throughout campuses.
• Fixed wireless Internet service: This would supplement what several WISPs are doing for the residential and enterprise markets now. CBRS could provide point-to-point links for enterprises or large campuses. CBRS could also be a point-to-multipoint service for enterprises, such as linking security cameras around a campus.
Going forward, private LTE networks, including CBRS, offer new chance for enterprises as they allow them to deploy a managed LTE network that’s untethered to a traditional cellular network. Private LTE wireless coverage serves as an innovative way for CRE owners, enterprises, organizations and more to deploy high quality connectivity that they control while meeting their tenants’ growing demand for wireless.
For the first time, enterprise and CRE owners will be able to create their own LTE network for their private use.
Information in this report gained from iGillottResearch, Inc. (iGR) “Private LTE Primer” white paper.
Your potential. Your network.
Business is changing and your organization needs mobile connectivity that can support your entire, unique workforce. We’re here to help with just that by providing a custom-fit private network solution as a service.
Powerful smartphones and tablets are now the primary method for most of us to access the internet. The capabilities of our mobile devices have increased exponentially. What was once a simple mobile phone dedicated to voice calls and texting has evolved into a highly sophisticated mobile computer, capable of almost any task. Businesses are eager to leverage mobile broadband to make them more flexible, productive and competitive. Landlords have begun to leverage technologies that control energy consumption, space utilization, and other data to improve operations.
CBRS is set to be the foundation of innovative 4G LTE and 5G networks, and more importantly, it enables forward-thinking landlords and enterprises to deploy and control their own high-performance networks based on carrier-grade technology. Rather than relying on towers to blast outside signals through the windows and walls, landlords and businesses can now deploy tailored private 4G LTE networks designed to operate inside the building. If they know-how. Designing and operating a private LTE network requires cellular experience.
That’s how the idea for how Geoverse was born. In 2017, Rod Nelson and Carl Gunell, two cellular industry veterans, founded Geoverse to make that process as simple as possible. We created a first of its kind service combining our cellular design expertise and our operational experience to design a framework for private 4G LTE networks, complete with everything—network design, access points, devices, gateways, network operation centers and support, carrier integration, installation and operation–as a subscription service. It is our job at Geoverse to make reliable and more secure connectivity accessible and affordable to enterprises. It is our aim to enable carrier-grade mobility – delivered with the simplicity of commercial WiFi – to that you can attract new and stickier tenants, enhance occupant experiences, and improve productivity and agility.
Geoverse is a small but advanced mobile network operator established to serve the enterprise market. We are unencumbered by legacy technologies such as 2G, 3G, or circuit switching. Instead, we have an advanced IP-based infrastructure, edge computing, and a core interconnected with major operators. As a result, we can bridge the gap between public and private cellular networks and deliver seamless mobility inside your building and the world beyond.
As a subsidiary ATN International, a public company traded on NASDAQ, Geoverse benefits from over 30 years of operational experience in owning and operating communications companies in the US and internationally. We can also leverage established relationships in the cellular ecosystem.
Businesses don’t need to wait for 5G to take the first step toward faster and more secure connectivity. Whether you need to address coverage and capacity issues, need a secure network for your business applications, or a foundational wireless network for smartphones and things Geoverse has a solution for you today. We collaborate with you to design a bespoke network solution that meets your specific needs while allowing for a certain amount of flexibility.
We’re proud to offer a design process where we work closely with you to design a solution that addresses you use cases and propose a solution from leading vendors we absolutely trust.
The shared CBRS spectrum has removed one of the most important obstacles for the adoption of cellular wireless in the enterprise. And it allowed Geoverse to challenge conventions, innovate, and change the rules of the wireless.
As a result, from smartphones to video to IoT, we can provide your organization with the connectivity you need to make the most of the next wave of mobile innovation.
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Bellevue, WA 98005
Airwavz Solutions is a Charlotte based company that designs, develops, and operates 5G ready fiber backbone wireless infrastructure for building owners and enterprise customers. They have a holistic, solutions driven approach to delivering a customized end to end wireless technology platform that allows for CRE leaders and enterprise clients to align with their financial requirements. What does this mean in practical terms? Airwavz can make the solution fit the need.
The out of the box thinking that is being shown by Airwavz extends to the topic in this report – specifically Private LTE. Airwavz has done something that is unique in the industry – they made a deal with Globalstar, a wireless spectrum owner to license their frequencies for to use in in-building and enterprise installations. What does this mean for expanding the possibilities of new innovative solutions for Private LTE and better indoor coverage? A terrific new way to put idle wireless spectrum to work and help make landlords and tenants enjoy better wireless coverage.
Airwavz Solutions has exclusive rights to use this spectrum Band 53 inside of commercial real estate properties, which is the company’s primary focus. The company has two pilot programs underway in the CRE sector, with another one not too far behind. Airwavz is looking to roll the band out on Internet of Things (IoT) smart building services and devices first before moving to mobile phones, which poses a different challenge.
One reason why Airwavz went into this agreement is because it recognizes commercial real estate owners are going to need an alternative to the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) to serve their tenants as buildings become “smarter” and in-building IoT devices become more prominent. Currently, network technologies such as distributed antenna systems (DAS), D-RAN, Wi-Fi and fiber-optic networks are supporting in-building services. However, there’s a need for new technologies to be developed in order to address the anticipated rise of IoT devices and the millions of connections needed for smart-building applications. Globalstar’s Band 53, which received 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) approval last December, is well designed to meet future in-building wireless connectivity demands.
“Obviously CBRS is making a big push and they’re wrapped into IoT, smart building and private LTE,” Airwavz Solutions founder and President Mark Horinko told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “I’m afraid there’s not going to be a lot of participation in licensed CBRS for commercial real estate—I don’t think it’s going to be affordable. We just feel that bringing a licensed product in concert with CBRS can provide a higher performing system in terms of mission critical applications, whether they’re smart building or private LTE services. (The band) is a licensed product that enables us to provide those SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) that CBRS and the general authorized access (GAA) will never be able to do.”
The terrestrial Band 53 holds physical, regulatory, and ecosystem qualities that separate it from other 5G spectrum allocations. With favorable characteristics like low interference, high capacity and nationwide availability, the band is ideal to support next generation in-building services as the CRE industry experiences a technological transformation.
“With FCC authorization, 3GPP approval of Band 53 and the growing support of the ecosystem, Globalstar is primed to offer terrestrial spectrum to enable high capacity indoor and outdoor applications,” Globalstar Executive Chairman Jay Monroe said in a statement. “We are working closely with Airwavz to deliver the next wave of innovative wireless services.”
1410 W. Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC 28208
SBA Communications Corporation (SBA) is an independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure – that includes towers, buildings, rooftops, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cells. SBA supports wireless technologies that keep people, businesses and municipalities connected. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, SBA has operations and offices across North, Central and South America and South Africa.
As an industry leader, with more than 30 years of experience and expertise, SBA has participated in the creation of the shared infrastructure model for carriers that helped to facilitate the expansion of the mobile industry. SBA Communications is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol: SBAC. Our organization is part of the S&P 500 and is one of the top 20 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) based on market capitalization. Our principal operations and offices are in the United States and its territories, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and South Africa.
Exponential growth in the number of mobile users, devices, apps, and especially the demand for mobile data and video will continue to create the need for higher speed wireless services and more bandwidth. Telecommunication carriers are increasing network capacity to meet the demands of mobile customers by building out or densifying their networks through the implementation of cell towers, antenna placements on buildings and rooftops, DAS and small cells – exactly what we do at SBA in Building Better Wireless®.
Building Better Wireless®
In our site leasing business, SBA leases antenna space on our multi-tenant towers and other structures to a variety of wireless service providers under long-term lease contracts. SBA currently owns and operates approximately 30,000 towers across 14 countries. We build our towers at the request of wireless carriers, leveraging our in-house experience in site acquisition, zoning and construction. Currently, SBA also manages approximately 9,700 communication site locations on behalf of third-party landlords.
Through our site development services, we can assist wireless service providers and operators in developing their own networks through site acquisition, zoning, construction and equipment installation. Our extensive site development experience includes participation in the development of more than 120,000 communication sites.
We are communications experts for commercial real estate owners. SBA works with property owners to strategically develop and monetize the wireless infrastructure potential of their real estate assets. We use new technologies like Private LTE and CBRS to support commercial real estate owners to provide or improve their in-building cellular wireless coverage, as well as provide public safety solutions. We are industry experts in this space and provide consultation and design services and also manage deployment and management functions through an end-to-end service that minimizes the property owner’s upfront and ongoing investment and need to develop in-house operational functions.
Senior Vice President
U.S. Business Development, Asset Development