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When will Verizon support neutral host CBRS?

AT&T and T-Mobile have been supporting CBRS neutral host network offerings from the likes of InfiniG and Kajeet, but Verizon has been conspicuous in its absence. Officials think that might change.

Mike Dano

December 7, 2023

3 Min Read
Verizon retail store in New York City
(Source: Verizon)

Verizon appears to be the odd one out when it comes to supporting CBRS neutral host networks. But providers of such networks are hopeful that will change soon.

Neutral host networks in the US allow a venue to purchase and install its own 3.5GHz CBRS network and then connect that network to a big, public wireless network operator through the Multi Operator Core Network (MOCN) standard. By doing so, the venue can offer indoor cellular coverage – an important stipulation for venues with lots of foot traffic like hotels and hospitals.

"Both AT&T and T-Mobile recognize we have the ability to provide service for their subscribers," Joel Lindholm, with InfiniG, told Light Reading. InfiniG is building neutral host CBRS networks.

"At the end of the day, we have been engaged with Verizon for several years, and we're hopeful that they make the same decision to the benefit of Verizon and its subscribers," Lindholm added.

Landon Garner, CMO of Kajeet, is also hoping to bring Verizon on board. Kajeet recently announced a neutral host private network offering.

"Verizon is by far our largest carrier partner across our entire business. We are actively working with them on this solution and a few related private network projects," Garner told Light Reading. "Having said that, we don't yet have a timeline on their plans, but we're hopeful that we'll have some details to share shortly."

And officials with another neutral host network company, Celona, told Mobile World Live that they hope to get Verizon on board sometime next year.

Verizon did not respond to a question from Light Reading about whether it will support the neutral host networks.

Going neutral

In the past, distributed antenna (DAS) networks have supplied indoor wireless connections, but those can be very expensive to install and operate. Now, with neutral host networks, venue operators can afford to purchase their own indoor networks.

Indeed, Facebook owner Meta pioneered the concept by using small cells and the 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum band to build a neutral host indoor wireless network for its office employees. As Light Reading previously reported, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile all support Meta's network.

But Verizon has been absent from neutral host announcements. For example, InfiniG and Kajeet recently announced their offerings, and both said AT&T and T-Mobile support their respective efforts. Verizon was conspicuous in its absence.

The issues

"AT&T and T-Mo have signaled they're onboard, but Verizon isn't," Michael Collado, a longtime executive in the space, wrote on LinkedIn. "Deployments will be highly scrutinized before being approved by each carrier ... because these solutions are so new. And the ecosystem is going to need a fair amount of practice before taking the training wheels off given new and additional considerations such as 4G/5G core network, SAS [Spectrum Access System], and MOCN gateway that have both technical and financial implications."

One major stumbling block has been 911 support. Since Verizon and other operators are required to correctly route 911 calls, they have been reluctant to support third-party networks. But that situation has been changing following the advent of Wi-Fi calling and other technologies.

Another possible issue: Verizon has an extensive DAS business, which could be impacted by a big shift to neutral host networks.

Nevertheless, "the traditional approach is time and capital intensive for all involved," explained InfiniG's Lindholm. 

He said InfiniG's neutral host as a service offering "is a viable alternative for unserved properties."

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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