Private LTE networks and more in latest whitepaper
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) has been one of the most discussed topics in the commercial real estate industry for the last couple of years. “Most discussed” does not always translate to “must understood” however. That is why Communication Technology Services (CTS) and Ranplan Wireless teamed up to write a whitepaper to help the CRE industry better understand CBRS and its relation to Private LTE networks.
CTS Sales Engineer Rahul Bangera and Vice President Juanyu Bu, PhD along with Ranplan Wireless Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Jie Zhang, PhD wrote the “Understanding CBRS Based—Private LTE Networks” white paper this year.
“In this whitepaper, we first discuss key factors and elements of a CBRS-based Private LTE network, including Spectrum Management, Evolved Packet Core (EPC), Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs), the CBRS device ecosystem, industry
verticals and use cases,” the authors wrote. “Then, we present three case studies to demonstrate that CBRS based Private LTE networks can help the likes of enterprise, venue owners, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to address various use cases such as in-building coverage for offices and hotels, additional capacity for large venues (stadiums), and joint outdoor-indoor ubiquitous coverage for urban campuses from different industry verticals.”
CTS and Ranplan’s whitepaper initially breaks down how CBRS works as an in-building wireless network. Basically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started the CBRS initiative in 2015 in an effort to make the spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band available for shared commercial use. Prior to the FCC’s initiative, the spectrum was only available to the military, legacy satellite earth station operators and wireless fixed broadband users. Today, the FCC has decided to provide more users with spectrum access, including enterprises, mobile network operators (MNOs) service providers, venue owners and more for commercial deployment.
CBRS’ availability is broken out into three tiers: Incumbents, the highest tier, which comprises the aforementioned military radar systems, fixed satellite service ground stations and wireless fixed broadband users; Priority Access Licenses (PAL), the middle tier for spectrum access that consists of seven 10 MHz channels from 3550-3650MHz, and has been bid out on a per county basis; and General Authorized Access (GAA), the lowest tier for spectrum access, which has the largest bandwidth available to operate on and consists of the entire spectrum 3550-3700MHz. The GAA must not cause any harmful interference to any on-going active incumbent and PAL user operations.
Since CBRS’ inception, more industry segments have become interested in leveraging it for commercial use. Deploying Private LTE networks (5G in the future) is one of CBRS’ most appealing aspects to CRE owners.
“A Private LTE network could help us deploy a plethora of data-related applications and use cases for various industry verticals,” the authors wrote. “It can also help us achieve a degree of convergence by bringing together various systems and applications onto one network. Leading players from various industry segments much as MNOs, system integrators, telecom and IT hardware manufacturers and software developers are all working together towards realizing the potential benefits of deploying a Private LTE network.”
Entities in the oil and gas industry, the military and mining are among those that have deployed Private LTE networks for certain applications. Other companies that are working on developing CBRSbased Private LTE networks are doing so to encourage other potential industries to deploy these networks as well.
KEY ELEMENTS OF CBRS
“Understanding CBRS based—Private LTE Networks” also breaks down the main components of CBRS and defines their purpose. Spectrum Access System (SAS) for example is the cloud-based automated frequency coordinator that manages the SAS mechanism for the previously mentioned tier users. SAS is also critical for maintaining the database that houses all of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) that are registered on its platform.
The whitepaper also explains Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC), which captures any form of federal incumbent transmission and securely relays it to the SAS. The SAS takes this information to assign channels to CBSDs that are operating in the nearby areas.
Private LTE networks remain one of the most appealing aspects of CBRS for CRE owners. Prior to CBRS’ inception, building owners’ in-building wireless network options were Wi-Fi (which isn’t particularly strong enough for Internet of Things devices to operate on) or forming costly agreements with carriers who charge for releasing the data that traveled over their networks. CBRS provides CRE owners with the best of both worlds—a reliable wireless network that’s also cost efficient.
“Understanding CBRS based—Private LTE Networks” provides a point-by-point explanation of how the Private LTE network infrastructure works, what its main functions are as well as the solutions that support a Private LTE network.
Any CRE owner that wants a Private LTE network would be best served understanding the equipment involved, which CTS and Ranplan cover. The companies’ whitepaper also explains the two different ways an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) can be deployed to support a Private LTE network. Building owners can have EPC that’s physically installed and integrated on-site with the RAN, which is known as an Edge EPC. The other option is using an EPC that’s hosted on a cloud or off-site server and is connected to the RAN through and IP connection—a Virtualized or Cloud-based EPC.
“The Edge EPC is mainly used for business critical and/or data sensitive applications so that the data never leaves from the site,” the whitepaper authors wrote. “This helps manage, control, and store the data completely on-site, which provides a higher level of security to the user.
“The Virtualized EPC or Cloud-based EPC is hosted on an off-site server or on a cloud platform. This type of configuration could be typically used for less critical applications and when there is a higher tolerance on latency. This is because the data will have to travel back and forth between the eNB and the virtual EPC via an established IP connection. This type of configuration could also be used when you do not have sensitive data that needs to be securely stored on site.”
Bangera, Bu, and Zhang also touch on the numerous CBSD solutions that are currently on the market, that fall under four categories: Small Cell based Standalone CBRS Private LTE deployment; Small Cell based hybrid CBRS with Wi-Fi/Cellular Private LTE deployment; Fiber-Coaxial DAS based Standalone CBRS Private LTE deployment and Fiber-Coaxial DAS based Hybrid with CBRS with Cellular Private LTE deployment.
The whitepaper also acknowledges that CBRS’ momentum and popularity has led device manufacturers designing, testing and bringing to market devices that support various applications that are operating on the CBRS spectrum. The manufacturers’ work has led to a significant amount of end-user devices becoming available in the market across industry verticals. Leading smartphone manufacturers have already introduced Band-48 (the frequency band number assigned to the CBRS spectrum) enabled phones.
Additionally, hand-held devices, such as barcode scanners, portable Point of Sale (PoS) systems, tablets and laptops, are being developed with Band 48 support as well, giving them the ability to connect to the CBRS-based Private LTE Network. IoT devices, including sensors and actuators supporting various industry verticals such as manufacturing, Medicare, and supply chain and logistics, can now be deployed on a CBRS-based Private LTE Network either directly or through IoT-to-LTE gateways and routers.
“In time, we will see the emergence of additional end-user device manufactures introducing their products in the Private LTE segment, which will be driven by the increasing needs of supporting a number of different applications by various industrial verticals on such a network,” the authors wrote.
CBRS/PRIVATE LTE USE CASES
Several different industries have leveraged CBRS-based Private LTE networks for both indoor and outdoor use, including oil and gas, utilities, mines, ports, factories and enterprises. “Understanding CBRS based—Private LTE Networks” also presented three case studies that included a hotel, campus and stadium.
A CBRS-based Private LTE network was deployed in a medium-sized hotel building that had 19 above ground and two basement floors—similar to an office building. A fiber-coaxial DAS solution is used to provide a uniform user experience within the premise.
On the campus, the companies deployed a CBRS-based Private LTE network with small cells to provide coverage and capacity. Eight CBRS-based Private LTE cells were placed on lamp-posts that were about 19 feet above ground. Each one had a downlink that transmitted power of 34dBm with 8-stream Close-loop Spatial Multiplexing (CLSM) Multiple- Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO).
The whitepaper also noted that CBRS-based Private LTE network deployment is ideal in stadiums for MNOs, venue owners and neutral host providers. Especially when high data rate services for high-definition videos, virtual reality and augmented reality experiences are involved. However, deploying such a network that can meet the content uploading demands of tens of thousands of attendees at once can be challenging. The companies noted it can address this challenge with Ranplan Professional’s® in-stadium modeling and Private LTE simulation capabilities, which can accurately design a Private LTE network.
For your copy of “Understanding CBRS Based—Private LTE Networks”,