CBRS May Be the Not-so-Secret Secret
Across the world, lack of reliable high-speed broadband access is a pervasive problem that affects more than 3 billion people. It's getting worse: Internet speeds serving 3.3 billion people in developing and emerging markets are expected to decline by 2023.
Sadly, network infrastructure is to blame. And the problem is not limited to emerging countries. Internet access in sparsely populated areas of the US can be almost backwards. Access, speeds and reliability are sketchy. According to data released by the FCC last year, about 21 million people in the US do not have a broadband network. The situation is worse in rural areas with the Pew Research Center estimating that about a third of Americans living in rural areas do not have broadband at home.
And while the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has passed, the $45.5 Billion Broadband Equity and Deployment (BEAD) funding release will take time. Thankfully, there is a solution that can be deployed quickly as states work to secure the potential $100M in grant money that will help build their own broadband networks.
The CBRS band is made up of 150 MHz of 3.5 GHz shared spectrum. It uses multi-tiered sharing with existing incumbents:
- Tier 1 are incumbents with protected status, including: DoD Navy ship radars, registered fixed satellite stations
- Tier 2 are Priority Access Licenses (PAL)
- Tier 3 are General Authorized (GAA) channels. The FCC has authorized shared use and priority access use of this band for commercial wireless data
CBRS can also enable service providers to deploy 5G networks without acquiring spectrum licenses. It is better suited for LTE and private 5G networks due to some limitations that make it ineffective for broad 5G use. Power issues, for example, can restrict its distance capabilities. Therefore, CBRS is more appropriate for small coverage areas.
It is useful for private networks to improve coverage within in-building spaces, like multi-family dwellings, auditoriums, and shopping malls. It can also be used to provide connectivity in remote areas for telecommuting, e-learning or virtual classes, albeit with limitations.
Verizon has been a CBRS champion for quite some time. In late June 2022, the company announced it completed a 5G data session using CBRS General Authorized Access (GAA) spectrum. The trial infers that Verizon and its vendors are ready to support 5G on both shared and Priority Access License (PAL) CBRS spectrum, which will supplement Verizon’s current deployment of 5G service over C-band and mmWave spectrum.
EUCAST is one of many companies leveraging CBRS to wirelessly help underserved rural areas of the US connect with the world. It’s more than time. Internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
Mun, K. (2017). CBRS: New shared spectrum enables flexible indoor and outdoor mobile solutions and new business models. White Paper, Mar. https://federatedwireless.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Mobile-Experts-CBRS-Overview.pdf
Parvez, I., Sriyananda, M. G. S., Güvenç, İ., Bennis, M., & Sarwat, A. (2016). Cbrs spectrum sharing between lte-u and wifi: A multiarmed bandit approach. Mobile Information Systems, 2016. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/misy/2016/5909801/
Kang, Cecilia., Alba, Davey., Satariano, Adam. (2020) Surging Traffic Is Slowing Down Our Internet. New York Times, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/business/coronavirus-internet-traffic-speed.html
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jaehyeong Kim is the CEO and Founder of EUCAST. He has more than 2 decades of experience in mobile wireless communication and technology. For more information, please email [email protected] or visit www.eucastglobal.com.
Follow them on social media: