Federal regulators have given the official go-ahead for Initial Commercial Deployment of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, and vendors and their customers are hitting the gas on deployments.
In a public notice posted today, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology confirmed that the Spectrum Access Systems operated by Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony have satisfied the lab testing requirements and are approved to support ICDs. Those systems have also received final approval for ICD from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Defense.
“The greenlight received from the FCC for initial commercial deployments of CBRS shared spectrum is the culmination of a great deal of focus, commitment and collaboration to bring about change in how spectrum is delivered,” said Iyad Tarazi, CEO of Federated Wireless, in a statement. “We can now expand our nation’s broadband capabilities and deliver on the promise of affordable spectrum needed for 4G and 5G to enable the Internet of Things, develop private LTE networks, and bring much-needed spectrum to rural areas, among other uses. This is a big win for service providers, enterprises and consumers and sets the stage for true innovation in wireless communications.”
CBRS Alliance, the industry group backing the development of the ecosystem supporting the three-tiered spectrum sharing framework for CBRS and the related OnGo brand, said that solutions and services for CBRS have already been developed by companies including AT&T, Verizon and cable provider Charter Communications. Dave Wright, president of CBRS Alliance, said that there has been “an unprecedented amount of coordination and joint development to implement the FCC’s framework, prepare the industry for imminent deployments and certify components and devices.” ICD, the group said, marks “the final step in the development of the OnGo ecosystem and launch of commercial services in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band across thousands of sites across the U.S.”
ICD is a formal 30-day period in which the new systems will receive extra scrutiny that they are living up to the operational results they produced in the lab, and the SAS administrators must provide a report on ICD operations at the end of the period. ICDs “must involve a variety of testing scenarios featuring multiple Citizen Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) that result in the generation of data upon which the Commission can reasonably predict that the SAS can reliably operate in compliance with the … rules,” the FCC noted.
Meanwhile, in the run-up to ICD, the Federal Communications Commission has been granting a slew of requests that range from expanding existing pilot networks to showcasing the technology at this fall’s Mobile World Congress Los Angeles.
Among the STA requests granted this week and last:
-Verizon had a Special Temporary Authority (STA) request granted to test a CBRS outdoor network in New York City starting this month and extending through March 2020, with half a dozen nodes and up to 10 mobile devices. The carrier was also granted an STA for another CBRS network in Utica, New York.
-AT&T was granted permission to operate what it described as “statewide” CBRS networks in Ohio and Tennessee, activating the technology at 150 sites across the two states. The company said in its STA filing that that it will be conducting “fixed and mobile tests using various experimental wireless equipment operating in the 3.5 GHz band. … [The] proposed experiments would involve the transmission and reception of signals by and between base stations and user devices within a ten kilometer radius of [the]base stations.”
-Amazon updated its CBRS plans and asked for expanded testing permissions at multiple locations. The company noted that it has already been testing CBRS in Sunnyvale, California, but now it wants to potentially add CBRS testing capabilities at two locations in northern Virginia and at its Block 21 location in Seattle, Washington. Amazon said that it wants to “test and analyze the performance and functionalities of prototype CBRS devices and software under development to support communications requirements and applications” and that it requested authorization at additional sites “so that it will be prepared to expand its research as necessary to three other locations (in Arlington, VA, Herndon, VA, and Seattle, WA) and to continue its research at its initial location in Sunnyvale.”
-Ericsson was granted permission to operate a CBRS demo on the show floor at MWC Los Angeles.
-Communications equipment company Sercomm is testing CBRS for “residential and small business wireless connectivity in addition to wireless broadband access” and examining “different deployment scenarios in a real world environment.” The company said in its STA filing that it will be testing its CBRS LTE products at an employee home office in Castle Rock, Colorado, between October 2019 through February 2020. Sercomm also was granted an STA to operate a CBRS demo at the upcoming SCTE Cable-Tec show.