What is CBRS and How Can It Benefit Your Enterprise Business?

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John Gieske

Principal Engineer - LTE / 5G
What is CBRS

What is CBRS? Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a pivotal technology in the enterprise communications landscape. It offers businesses unprecedented flexibility and efficiency in their wireless connectivity needs. Hence, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated this spectrum band.

In short, CBRS utilizes a unique and innovative three-tiered spectrum-sharing architecture. It optimizes using the 3.5 GHz band (3550 MHz to 3700 MHz). However, it was initially reserved for the US Navy. Later, the FCC repurposed it as the “innovation band” for various users, including private enterprises.

CBRS supports private cellular network deployment. Enterprises can establish their own 4G or 5G networks. Definitely, these networks are more secure and controlled than public networks.
Interesting technology, right? So, I welcome you to learn more about why enterprises should avail of CBRS throughout the discussion in this blog.

As I said, the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a notable development in wireless communication technology. It offers a spectrum band for commercial use while ensuring compatibility with existing services. Plus, it is an unlicensed spectrum in the United States, available for building private networks.

Let’s dig into the history to understand CBRS with more clarity.

History & Development 

The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) identified a new publicly available transmission band in the 3.5 GHz band for shared federal and non-federal use in its 2010 Fast Track Report. It was identified as CBRS in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the FCC in December 2012.

FCC completed a process in 2017. It began in 2012 to establish rules for commercial use of this band. Then, on January 27, 2020, they authorized full use of the CBRS band for WSP commercialization. This decision represents a significant step towards enhancing wireless connectivity options for businesses and consumers.

The allocation process ensures that CBRS users do not interfere with incumbent users (like the US Navy’s radar systems) through Priority Access and General Authorized Access tiers. This approach enables a balance between commercial use and the protection of critical military and government communications.

Technical Aspects

CBRS band is particularly significant because various users share it, including the military, fixed satellite services, and commercial users. It uses the standard LTE (Long-Term Evolution) radio interface.

Hence, LTE provides up to 10x the speed of 3G networks for mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and wireless hotspots. It supports voice, text, and data communication.

One of the key features of CBRS is its use for in-building, unlicensed ‘small cell’ service. These small cells are low-power base stations. They can improve the cellular signal within their range. 

CBRS requires a Spectrum Allocation Service (SAS) to avoid interference with other users of the 3.5GHz band. The SAS dynamically assigns frequencies to CBRS devices. In this way, it ensures that they do not interfere with each other or with incumbent users of the band.

What is the CBRS Architecture?

The CBRS architecture provides an additional 150 MHz spectrum. It provisions access to the spectrum in both a licensed and unlicensed manner. Thus, this architecture is based on the 3-tiered framework for sharing the radio frequency (RF) spectrum from 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz. These tiers are (you may call them as three types of CBRS users):

CBRS architecture

Incumbent Users

These are high-priority users like naval aircraft carriers and fixed satellite stations. They are protected from harmful interference by all other tiers. Also, incumbent users have priority access to the spectrum. 

Priority Access License (PAL) Users

PAL users can purchase licenses through an FCC auction. It grants them priority use of a portion of the spectrum in specific geographic areas. Besides, PAL licenses have priority over General Authorized Access (GAA) users. Each license has a term of ten years and can be renewed. 

General Authorized Access (GAA) Users

These users are licensed by rule to permit open, flexible entry to the band for the largest group of potential users. GAA users can utilize any portion of the band not allocated to a higher tier user. However, they must accept interference from the above tiers without causing harmful interference to them. 

What are the Components of CBRS?

How does CBRS work? Well, all the components of the CBRS system are integral to its operation and management of the 3.5 GHz spectrum. These include:

Spectrum Access System (SAS)

The SAS is a dynamic spectrum management engine. It protects incumbent users from negative interference. Also, it optimizes the use of available spectrum for PAL and GAA users. FCC databases and incumbent reporting systems can connect through SAS. 

Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC)

The ESC systems protect Incumbent Access Users (IAUs) by detecting the presence of federal incumbent signals. It automatically informs the SAS of incumbent activity to avoid interference.

CBRS Devices

These radio systems transmit and receive data on the CBRS spectrum. Almost all new cellular phones, like iPhones, Google Pixels support CBRS band. Even, laptops from HP, Dell, and Lenovo, tablets from Apple, Samsung, and Zebra also support this band. However, these devices must be registered with the SAS. They must comply with CBRS instructions regarding frequency use and power levels.

CBRS Networks 

These are the networks that utilize the CBRS spectrum. They can be private LTE or 5G networks set up by enterprise organizations. Thus, each network has a globally unique CBRS-NID or network ID assigned by the CBRS Alliance. They can be used as an LTE Closed Subscriber Group (CSG) identifier. 

User Equipment (UE)

UE devices are smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices connected to CBRS networks. They communicate with CBRS radio systems to access network services. 

Evolved Packet Core (EPC)

EPC is a cellular network architecture component. It manages data routing and mobility for the network. In CBRS deployments, the EPC connects to eNodeBs and orchestrates the data flow across the network. 

What are the Applications or Use Cases of CBRS?

CBRS technology significantly enhances indoor connectivity by delivering up to 10x wider coverage than traditional WiFi networks. This improvement is crucial for businesses operating in large buildings, like skyscrapers and office complexes, where WiFi signals often struggle to reach every corner. 

CBRS access points (operating on a dedicated spectrum) ensure reliable and interference-free wireless connectivity. They support various applications, from data-intensive tasks to real-time communications. Therefore, these are some notable applications of CBRS:

Private LTE Networks for Enterprises

  • Enhanced control over network security and performance
  • Great to handle sensitive data or provide reliable connectivity for critical operations

IoT Connectivity

  • Stable, secure, and seamless communication to optimize operations
  • Right choice for industries like manufacturing using IoT devices

Enhanced In-Building Coverage

  • Improved cellular coverage at indoors
  • Useful for large structures to get consistent connectivity for both voice and data services

Rural and Remote Connectivity

  • Broadband connectivity in rural or remote areas where conventional infrastructure may not be available

Education and Campus Connectivity

  • Campus-wide wireless connectivty with support of educational tools and resources
  • Better than traditional WiFi networks

Healthcare

  • Secure, reliable, and cost-effective connectivity
  • Supports everyday administrative operations and patient care applciations with better communication systems

Transportation & Logistics

  • Provide connectivity for tracking and managing assets throughout supply chains (warehouses and during transit)
  • Improves operational efficiency by reducing delays

How Can CBRS Benefit Your Enterprise Business?

Or what are the benefits of CBRS for Enterprises? They can use CBRS for numerous advantages. According to Samsung, enterprises can save costs by requiring fewer small cells than WiFi. It also reduces expenses related to power, cable running, and maintenance.

Benefits of CBRS

CBRS operates in the 3.5 GHz band (Band 48). It offers access to a broad spectrum, which is beneficial in congested or heavily congested areas. In such areas, traditional WiFi bands may be saturated. So, using this spectrum can eliminate network congestion and enhance overall service quality.

If you think of CBRS vs. WiFi, the prior one can lead to significant cost savings. This technology reduces the need for extensive infrastructure for WAN deployments. Again, it can be more economical than public LTE services. It often involves high upfront investments. For instance, traditional radio equipment can cost upwards of $1000 per unit.

Again, the CBRS model allows for shared access to the spectrum. It enables more users to implement private cellular networks at a lower cost. Certainly, it benefits enterprises looking to deploy their networks while saving up to 75% of costs. They can accomplish a return on investment (ROI) within just 3 months than conventional wireless alternatives.

A better network means better productivity. Enterprises can enhance overall interconnectivity through CBRS, which may improve the production and delivery of goods or services. They can even integrate apps and services through their private networks.

Businesses have enhanced control over network performance and security for CBRS. It is important as they must handle sensitive data and reliable connectivity for critical operations. Moreover, using SIM or ESIM for device authentication in CBRS networks ensures a robust, mature authentication mechanism to increase network security.

Enterprises can explore new models and services like IoT applications through the flexibility and capabilities of CBRS. For this, they can open new revenue streams. Adding to this, you can experiment and customize the network absent in public networks.

You can customize CBRS networks to meet specific QoS requirements. No doubt, it is vital for apps that demand high reliability and low latency. Besides, the scheduler components of CBRS technology ensure that service level agreements are met while providing consistent and predictable performance.

How to Implement CBRS in Your Business?

Implementation of CBRS in business can be done following three steps:

Planning and Strategy

You need a strategic approach to implement CBRS. It should align with your organization’s goals and technological infrastructure to become successful. Plus, planning should include reviewing regulatory requirements and compliance with FCC rules for CBRS deployment. Nybsys, however, assess your current wireless needs and considers the physical layout of your premises. 

Technical Requirements and Setup

Businesses need to acquire the necessary hardware to set up a CBRS network. It includes CBRS access points and a CBRS gateway for connecting to the internet. Thus, you can choose hardware depending on the needs of your enterprise business. For instance, you can consider the user numbers, types of applications you use, and desired level of network coverage. In this case, Nybsys is the best solution to get the necessary hardware and all other things with proper consultation and support. We can integrate CBRS with your existing IT infrastructure. 

Compliance and Regulations

Certainly, compliance with FCC regulations is a critical aspect of CBRS deployment. Your business must obtain a license from the FCC to operate in the CBRS band. It may involve applying to detail the proposed use of the spectrum. Additionally, compliance also extends to ongoing operations, including regular monitoring of the network. This way, you can ensure it meets the FCC’s technical standards. Also, it does not interfere with other users of the CBRS band.

Final Words – CBRS Deployment for Enterprises by Nybsys

Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a transformative technology for enterprise businesses. Certainly, it offers a flexible and efficient solution for enhancing wireless connectivity. CBRS solves all connectivity issues in today’s dynamic business environment – from improving indoor connectivity and supporting IoT deployments.

As CBRS continues to evolve, integrating with emerging technologies like AI and 5G, and gaining international recognition, the future of CBRS looks very promising. Besides, the innovations in this technology continue to drive new use cases and market opportunities.

You are here to know “what is CBRS,” and I have covered every answer you need. Beside this, if you are a business owner, you can connect us for CBRS deployment and stay ahead of others. We can provide you with CBRS equipment and solutions.

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