The REBNY TECH Committee in collaboration with CreTech sponsored a webinar last week designed to educate property owners nationwide about the advantages of CBRS and to dissect the FCC’s recent action granting property owners its use. The Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, is 150 MHz of wireless bandwidth that fills the 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz wireless spectrum. This large swatch of mobile bandwidth Is now available to owners of real property for free. Yes, there I said it…its free!
Why did the FCC do this and what is the ultimate goal?
This is where it gets interesting, but let’s answer some basic questions first. Just how big is this wireless pipe and why should property owners care? Remarkably, it is more bandwidth than you can ever use and everything from wireless video, broadband data and robotic operating networks can be deployed over it. A single 10MHz channel, or 1/15 of the spectrum available, can handle all the data a building generates and then some. Proper management and network design supporting this frequency will future proof our buildings and allow our tenants to receive state of the art and secure broadband connectivity while also having the ability to segment their own private networks. Most importantly, CBRS enabled buildings will have 5G first. Interested yet?
The FCC began studying how to commercialize this spectrum in 2012. On January 27 of this year they authorized full use of the CBRS band for wireless service providers without having to acquire a license. Their goal is to enable and accelerate the deployment of 5G on an unlicensed basis, to make buildings smarter, faster. One hitch, these carriers need the owner of the building to cooperate before they can build these networks and light them up. Building owners, in effect, grant the operating license to the carrier. This concept of “shared spectrum” was created to decrease the cost to build these networks and the ultimate goal is to foster the development of new sensors and smarter buildings that use less energy while delivering a healthy and safe environment to its occupants. Over 300 engineers from 60 different organizations participated in the development of the underlying CBRS Baseline Standards.
Why should property owners care?
Rudin’s initial focus on CBRS began when our tenants began asking to receive certain data we collect through our Nantum OS. Nantum OS is a single integrated platform — a building operating system — centralizes building data securely and enables data correlations that save money and enhance the tenant experience. Nantum OS’ mobile user interface allows the building owner and tenants to have real time situational awareness with regard to all pertinent aspects of the operation of the building. As we began retrieving data from within spaces we did not control, it became clear that accessing the tenant’s network was fraught with danger and that building a parallel wireless network – one that could extract data without interfering with existing WiFi — was essential to our ability to get granular data quickly and make use of it effectively, in real-time. CBRS solves this problem and this is what initially attracted us to investigating this FCC action.
The second significant advantage we see CBRS offering is the ability to pump as much bandwidth into our lobbies as possible. As Covid has forced us to rip up and replace all our operating protocols it has also transformed our lobbies into “social distanced” waiting rooms where elevator access is restricted to four people and daily temperatures are taken by thermal cameras. We need more bandwidth in our lobbies than ever before and CBRS delivers it. Ironically, when the Rudin family began the redevelopment of 55 Broad in 1995, Bill Rudin saw that the age old real estate moniker of “Location, Location, Location” was being transformed into “Location, Bandwidth, Location”. Clearly, without high speed global connectivity even the best locations will suffer. We solved for the mission criticality of bandwidth back then with optical fiber to the desktop. Today, CBRS addresses the need for bandwidth wirelessly with untethered mobility and lightning fast speeds.
Suffice it to say, CBRS has a huge role to play as we reimagine our properties to meet the demands of the “new normal” we all face. It deserves our undivided attention as much as the FCC deserves our thanks.