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CBRS Vendors Finance Private LTE Networks to Prove Use Cases

Martha DeGrasse
10/17/2019

Connectivity Wireless and JMA Wireless are financing a ten-day trial of a private LTE network in the newly available 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum band in the Angel Stadium ballpark in Anaheim, Calif. If officials there decide to invest in the network, the park might use it for a wide range of things like point-of-sale systems, ticketing and access operations, high-definition cameras, digital displays, secure internal communications and other services. The purpose of the ten-day trial is to test and prove use cases for the CBRS network.

The system uses JMA's software-based LTE radios and baseband processors, Federated Wireless's Spectrum Access System for spectrum management, Athonet's software-based mobile core, Geoverse's enhanced packet core, and Cradlepoint's LTE edge router. The network launched this week and will be live through October 25.

Importantly, the equipment vendors said each 10MHz chunk of the 3.5GHz band will be able to deliver 75Mbit/s connectivity.

The private network opportunity
CBRS could represent a major business opportunity for companies like Connectivity Wireless and JMA Wireless. Connectivity Wireless is a systems integrator and a "neutral host," a company that builds wireless systems in buildings and other locations and charges operators to connect to them. JMA Wireless is a hardware manufacturer and software developer, and says it is the only American company currently developing a 5G radio. CBRS could potentially change the game for companies like these, because the spectrum is partially unlicensed. That means venues could decide to invest in private cellular networks whether or not a nationwide carrier is willing to devote equipment and spectrum.

"Connectivity Wireless and JMA Wireless will work with us to realize the potential of owning and deploying our own private network with the security and control we desire," said Al Castro, the Angels' director of information services, in a release.

Matthew Bolian, director of marketing for Connectivity Wireless, said his company is hoping the trial will convince Angel Stadium to invest in a permanent private LTE network using the CBRS spectrum. He said Connectivity Wireless has already deployed another CBRS network demonstration in New York's Times Square, in part to encourage companies like Charter Communications and Comcast to offload some of their mobile customers onto the network.

If one of the cable operators commits to the Times Square network, Bolian hopes Angel Stadium could be next.

From private to commercial uses
Although the Angel Stadium trial network will be used primarily to support the arena's business operations, the goal is to eventually offload regular consumers' cellular traffic to the CBRS network. Bolian said that ultimately a fan visiting the stadium should be able to use the CBRS network without even realizing it. However, that kind of offloading scenario would require buy-in from commercial cellular operators like Verizon and AT&T -- so far, neither have agreed to those kinds of deals publicly.

The CBRS spectrum band was previously allocated exclusively for the Department of Defense, but under a new spectrum-sharing management system it has recently been released for unlicensed commercial uses. Next year the FCC plans to auction a portion of the band for licensed uses.

— Martha DeGrasse, special to Light Reading. Follow her @mardegrasse

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