For too long, commercial real estate owners and industrial landlords have suffered from poor in-building connectivity and very high costs related to networking technologies essential to the operations of their tenants’ core businesses. Now building owners and enterprises can deploy their own private CBRS LTE networks and reap significant benefits compared to traditional Wi-Fi and cellular networks from mobile network operators (MNOs), including lower deployment costs, faster time to market and more reliability, security and flexibility.
Here are seven things every building owner should know about CBRS.
- CBRS is not a network technology.
While commonly confused with other networking technologies like LTE, NB-IoT, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, CBRS is not a wireless networking technology. It is a 150 MHz-wide contiguous band of the 3.5 GHz band wireless spectrum. This means that CBRS can support a number of high-speed networking technologies including LTE, NB-IoT and others.
- Private CBRS LTE networks have numerous benefits.
Enterprises that are increasingly using IoT applications are starting to seriously consider the use of private CBRS LTE networks because they offer faster go-to-market times and lower costs compared with Wi-Fi and Carrier LTE networks.
While Wi-Fi networks can be set-up quickly at a relatively low initial cost, the ongoing maintenance costs for equipment are high and security is much lower when compared with cellular. LTE networking technology is more secure than Wi-Fi and reduces the risk of a cyberattack or data breach – a major concern for the healthcare and commercial office market where the use of IoT devices is proliferating at an exponential rate.
LTE networks owned and operated by wireless carriers are also very costly because of high data transmission costs and the need for wireless carriers to certify new devices for use on their networks, which takes both time and money.
Many of these problems are eliminated when using a private LTE network on the unlicensed CBRS band.
- You can create your own CBRS LTE network.
In the past, enterprises have been able to set up their own Wi-Fi networks, but if they wanted to use cellular networking, they needed to go through a mobile network operator like AT&T or Verizon. That will change once the FCC completes the final approval of CBRS, expected later this summer.
While existing military users will continue to have permanent priority as well as site-specific protection for registered sites, organizations can pay a fee to request up to four PALs in a limited geographic area for three years. Only the lower 100 megahertz of the CBRS band will be auctioned off with restrictions of a maximum of seven concurrent 10 megahertz PALs allocated within the same region.
The rest of the spectrum will be open to GAA use and coexistence issues will be determined by the Spectrum Access System (SAS) providers for spectrum allocation. CBRS is a managed band which means a device must communicate with a cloud-based SAS
- There’s enough CBRS spectrum for everyone.
Mobile network operators will purchase the majority of PAL licenses to improve their wireless capacity and coverage, but next in priority will be the general category of users, mostly enterprises deploying their own private networks who will not need a license.
It’s important to know that there is a lot of spectrum in this band which could easily be used by enterprises, and because this band is dynamically allocated to PAL, GAA, and military users with nearly 1,500 channels, it has plenty of bandwidth for everyone.
- CBRS is not a DAS killer.
It’s not likely that the advent of CBRS will eliminate the market for DAS. The two are expected to converge and work together to provide enhanced in-building wireless systems.
More companies are building DAS systems in their buildings that support wireless carrier networks like T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T and sub-6GHz 5G frequencies to meet the increasing need for public safety coverage and commercial wireless applications for the growing demand for strong cellular coverage. These solutions enable carriers to add coverage and capacity, and to boost data rates for building tenants.
- CBRS is a win-win-win for all parties.
Thus far, carriers with limited capital expenditure budgets have prioritized their efforts on building out “high-value” locations like stadiums and large public venues, leaving smaller venue and building owners to deal with the issues of cellular connectivity to solve on their own. But CBRS will enable venues like hotels, hospitals, and high-rise multi-tenant buildings, which require multi-operator capability that DAS offers, who can’t afford the high cost of installation of these systems to offer robust cellular connectivity at lower infrastructure costs.
With the CBRS band, there will be a neutral spectrum across all operators and only one small cell will be required to serve all operators instead of installing multiple, operator-specific small cells at each site. This is a true trifecta for all parties involved.
Service providers can enable indoor cellular coverage and access to subscribers who have NHN-capable devices, without direct capital investment at each venue. NHN operators can address the large and growing indoor cellular opportunity at the mid-market venues through network-based infrastructure services to providers. Building and venue owners will be able to provide indoor cellular services to tenants increasing the value of underlying physical assets without incurring massive expenses.
- You will see CBRS phones in the marketplace in quantity before you will see 5G phones for mass distribution.
The Google Pixel 3 phone, which is already for sale at Verizon, carries the 3.5 CBRS frequency in it today. Remember, in order to make all of this new CBRS work, everyone will need a phone with the 3.5gHz frequency in it.