Cable, Mobile Prepping for CBRS – Analyst

Jefferies & Company Inc. analyst George Notter put out a research note Tuesday stating that Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum 4G LTE networks are moving closer to commercial deployment in the US, with both mobile and cable operators.

"We understand there have already been a number of field trials and the FCC has processed registrations for 15,000 sites (a.k.a. entities) to date," the note says. Commercial equipment supporting the 3.5GHz CBRS radios are expected to go online before the end of the year.

Initial deployments are expected to use the unlicensed portion of the 3.5GHz spectrum (80MHz). The 70MHz of licensed spectrum in the shared band is expected to be auctioned sometime in 2019. (See Unlicensed CBRS 4G Service Coming Q4 2018, Who's Doing What in the CBRS Band?, Federated Wireless Sets Plan for Massive CBRS Band Deployment and Proposed CBRS Rules Suit Cable's Cause.)

Notter cites Mehmet Yavuz, CTO of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)'s Ruckus Networks unit, as saying that "major commercial trial deployments have already begun like Boingo's network built for Dallas Love Field Airport in July."

Initial use cases are expected to include:

  • Fixed wireless
  • Private LTE networks for industrial use cases, including airports, warehouses, and more
  • Third-party DAS and small cell networks
  • Incumbent mobile operators using CBRS to augment their licensed spectrum holdings

Major mobile operators, such as Verizon Wireless , are already moving along in the US to use CBRS as a spectrum supplement. Notter also notes that cable operators may prefer CBRS to early iterations of 5G. (See Verizon Tests 4G CBRS With Partners.)

"Given that Comcast and Charter have so far declined to participate in the FCC's 5G mmWave spectrum auctions, we think CBRS is a big part of their strategy," he writes. (See Cable Nearly a No-Show in mmWave Auction.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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