How CBRS works and why you should care

CBRS is a transformative technology facilitating secure wireless broadband with higher speeds and higher capacity levels.

As connectivity demands continue to increase, establishing this networking infrastructure is critical to remaining competitive, up-to-date, and technologically competent.

What is CBRS?

Citizens Broadband Radio Service is a 150 MHz wide spectrum of the 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz band.

This band is available to the public and commercial organizations. But it was originally reserved for the Federal Department of Defense, with the Navy being the primary user.

The FCC opened it up for commercial use in 2015 and began establishing its governance. At that time, it was referred to as the “Innovation Band”, this band is now called the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

CBRS is considered lightly licensed, with the FCC designating it to be shared by three tiers of users:

  • Tier 1 – Incumbent Access. Naval radars, satellite systems, and other authorized federal users continue to use CBRS. These users are granted Tier 1 access, with grandfathered-in licenses. Incumbent Users are protected from interference from Priority Access and General Authorized Access users.
  • Tier 2 – Priority Access. These users have received Priority Access Licenses (PALs). PALs are granted on a county-by-county basis through a competitive bidding process. PAL users have to deal with interference from and protect interference to incumbent users, but they are protected from interference from general users. Priority Access Users include municipalities, businesses, and other organizations.
  • Tier 3 – General Authorized Access. This tier grants open, flexible access under licensed-by-rule conditions. GAA users don’t have to get individual licenses. They just have to follow their rules, not cause interference to Tier 1 and 2 users, and accept interference from Tier 1 and 2.

The CBRS’ Tier 2 Priority Access has strong potential for commercial use. And the FCC continues to develop the CBRS’ governing policies with an eye to commercialization. 

The FCC is doing so in partnership with other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and various business giants.

Non-governmental organizations include the Wireless Innovation Forum (WInn Forum) and the OnGo Alliance.

The WInn Forum is for spectrum-sharing stakeholders and provides many helpful resources. The OnGo Alliance is an industry organization dedicated to advancing CBRS use. OnGo’s members include CBRS stakeholders like Google, Nokia, Meta (Facebook), Fujitsu, GE, and more.

The Federal Government and major business sector players are heavily invested in furthering CBRS-enabled connectivity.

How does CBRS work?

CBRS operates based on rules, standards, and frameworks developed by the FCC, the OnGo Alliance, and other organizations.

Its three-tiered operation is based on a dynamic spectrum access system. Here are two terms to know: 

  • Spectrum Access System (SAS): automated frequency coordinators that facilitate band sharing across user tiers
  • Environmental Sensing Capability Systems (ESC): a system that detects user signals and communicates their presence to the SAS

The spectrum access systems interface with the FCC and the environmental sensing capability systems, sending and receiving information from both. It receives information on authorized users to facilitate sharing. ESCs detect federal incumbent CBRS use and send that information to the SAS.

CBRS is accessed via CBRS Base Stations (also referred to as Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices or CBSDs) and CBRS End User Devices (EUDs).

CBRS base stations use a device requesting service has authorization with the SAS. These devices ask the SAS to provide access to the band spectrum. The SAS uses a database with user license information. It analyzes the requesters licensing along with the current band usage, then grants devices access based on their user tiers and spectrum availability.

This system of authorized and coordinated access to the 3.5 GHz band facilitates a wireless broadband service that’s robust and secure.

Why You Should Care About CBRS: Fast and Secure Wireless Broadband

CBRS’ 3.5 GHz band is capable of supporting 4G LTE, mobile 5G, and fixed 5G wireless broadband. And its governance enables organizations to create private LTE networks that are highly secure.

That’s still fairly technical. So here’s why you should care in plain language. If your organization needs fast, robust, and securely restricted internet service, CBRS technology is the way to go.

It’s enterprise-worthy wireless broadband. Here are 8 of its benefits and advantages.

8 Key Benefits of CBRS-Enabled Private LTE

  1. Secure Wireless Broadband Connectivity

CBRS uses secure authentication, keeps networks completely closed to non-authorized users, and can only be accessed using dedicated radio equipment.

Plus, CBRS keeps your data local and uses centralized encryption.

  1. Better Range and Area Coverage for Enhanced Mobility Services

CBRS access points provide greater coverage than Wi-Fi. You can easily get 4 times the coverage indoors, and up to 10 times the coverage outdoors.

Plus, this is high-speed mobility with longer signal ranges for a truly seamless network service. 

  1. Greater Network Capacity

CBRS’ 150 MHz spectrum of the 3.5 GHz band (also referred to as Band 48 CBRS) is capable of supporting numerous devices and high-demand applications at the same time.

Its frequency and range make it inherently ideal for private networks with advanced connectivity demands.

  1. Interoperability

Private LTE facilitates interoperability through its gateways. CBRS gateways are end-user devices that send information from user equipment to base station access points.

A gateway that can deliver managed voice, video, and other data enables communication among devices and applications from different manufacturers and businesses.

This architecture opens the door to bringing true interoperability within a private ecosystem of connected devices.

  1. Supports Higher Application Demands

Private LTE is capable of supporting much more demanding applications, thanks to its higher quality of service, increased bandwidth, and low latency.

Its capabilities easily support artificial intelligence and other advanced and emerging technologies.

Application developers are already taking note with developments seen in healthcare and the Industrial Internet of Things. Entirely new business models and services are expected to develop thanks to it.

  1. Enabling New Device Technology

Private LTE is already enabling new wireless broadband devices and technologies. A few include AI-enhanced cameras, sensors, smart agriculture, IoT sensor helmets, and more.

  1. Affordability

CBRS’ Private LTE has a scalable installation where access points and other equipment can be added or upgraded as needed.

The equipment does have to be purchased, but unlike Wi-Fi, private LTE brings no more ongoing costs for leased bandwidth.

  1. Ready for the Future

Private LTE network infrastructure isn’t just a hot new trend that will be out of fashion in a few years. This is the infrastructure that supports advancing 5G technologies.

Organizations that migrate to it now are getting a head start.

Who can benefit from CBRS-Enabled Private LTE Networks?

All organizations that need secure connectivity can benefit from migrating to private LTE networks. Private LTE can particularly benefit large enterprises with high internet use, organizations with many connected devices, or organizations needing connectivity over a broad distance.

A few examples include:

Private LTE Network Deployment

Private LTE networks are the path forwards for large logistical enterprises, municipalities, schools, healthcare facilities, manufacturers, and other connected organizations.

CBRS-enabled wireless broadband networks are advanced, but not out of reach. Your organization can adopt this transformative technology with a full-service provider like PCS Technologies.

PCS Technologies provides end-to-end private LTE planning, deployment, and management services. We’ve been installing and maintaining carrier-grade private LTE infrastructure for over 25 years.

You can speak with us personally by calling 800.659.2170, or you can send a message and a consultant will be right with you.

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