Blog

CBRS Networks: Common Pitfalls & Workarounds

Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is one of the hottest topics in 5G recently. Many consider it a game-changer in next-generation wireless networks, with benefits that cut across LTE and Wi-Fi. From fixed wireless access to mobile offloading, CBRS could be a cost-effective way to expand coverage and fill existing gaps. A popular use case is enhancing coverage in congested areas such as urban settings and sports stadiums. Another popular use case is fixed wireless access (FWA) for residential, commercial, and municipal broadband. Instead of fiber to every home or office, FWA decentralizes the last-mile internet for greater reliability and affordability.

Regardless of the application, CBRS’ mid-band spectrum is promising on many fronts. Because of its 3.55GHz to 3.7GHz range, CBRS strikes a good balance between data transmission rate and wireless range. But for those evaluating CBRS for the first time, the rules of engagement can be confusing. For example, CBRS requires spectrum assignment at the time of usage. And under certain scenarios, spectrum access could even be blocked. Therefore, if you are evaluating CBRS for your network, here are common pitfalls to know before moving forward.

Pifall #1: Thinking CBRS is Completely Unlicensed

Despite popular assumptions, CBRS is not an unlicensed spectrum. Technically, CBRS is a lightly licensed spectrum with shared access across three different parties. These include Incumbent, Priority Access License (PAL), and General Authorized Access (GAA) users.

Of the three parties, incumbents have the highest priority. These include the U.S. Navy and commercial satellite companies. After that comes exclusive PAL usage based on spectrum auctions in 2020. And finally, there is GAA for public use. Taking a step back, navigating access across different parties and priority levels may seem complex. However, certified devices and systems coordinate proper access in real-time. In fact, all CBRS deployments in the U.S. require certified Citizens Broadband Radio Services Devices (CBSDs). Furthermore, these CBSDs require registration with a cloud-based Spectrum Access System (SAS). The SAS acts as a traffic controller for the shared spectrum, ensuring proper access to the right users at the right time.

Because CBRS is a shared spectrum, CBSDs in the U.S. must be registered with a SAS to ensure proper function and access.

Pitfall #2: Failing to Analyze Existing Spectrum Usage

Despite the general availability of the spectrum, it is always best to ensure capacity before designing and deploying new CBRS networks. This provides a general understanding of the potential overcrowding of the spectrum and can prevent interferences and even outages. Therefore, use a spectrum analysis tool to comb through the intended network deployment locations. And since SAS providers monitor the CBRS spectrum, some may be able to provide this analysis. The current list of certified SAS providers includes Federated Wireless, Google, CommScope, Amdocs, Sony, and Key Bridge.

A note on spectrum availability: Even without the complete assurance of spectrum assignment, there is a wide and increasing spectrum that’s available for GAA. For example, incumbent commercial satellite companies will likely reallocate from CBRS to another spectrum in 2022. Furthermore, grandfathered CBRS licenses and exclusion zones will continue to decline in 2022. And although CBRS PAL auctions ended in August 2020, commercial PAL networks do not affect the GAA channels. That’s because 80MHz of the total CBRS spectrum of 150MHz is reserved for GAA, which should be sufficient for most applications. The net impact of CBRS’ wide spectrum and declining incumbent use likely means greater spectrum access for GAA going forward.

While CBRS is not ‘off-the-shelf,’ it offers a cost-effective solution that lowers the barrier to entry for new market entrants like WISPs.

Pitfall #2: Limiting CBRS Networks to Macro Cells

Designing CBRS networks with traditional macro-cell architecture will not work as effectively as they did in prior-generation networks. This is due in large part to adjacent bands like C-Band, which overlaps with CBRS in the 3GHz to 4GHz spectrum. Popular among mobile network operators, C-Band has higher power transmission limitations than CBRS. As a result of the power imbalance, CBRS is more likely to suffer from interference.

To minimize CBRS interference, it’s better to leverage small cell networks. As with any small cell network, RF spectrum planning is especially important for proper coverage. RF planning starts by analyzing the number of end-users, devices, and throughput speeds. It also includes assessing device types, their expected mobility, and the local environment. Meticulous planning and network simulations will help ensure proper CBRS coverage under varying circumstances. Note: if you are deploying a CBRS network on properties you do not own, it’s best to lock in potential sites ahead of time. This will minimize deployment bottlenecks common to site acquisition and permitting phases.

 

Utilize small cell networks and upfront RF planning. For deployment, use Certified Professional Installers (CPIs).

CBRS Checks Off Many Boxes

In conclusion, while CBRS may not be a straightforward solution, it checks off many boxes for a wide array of applications. Furthermore, certified devices and centralized access systems eliminate the need for complex homegrown systems. But regardless of devices and systems, successful wireless networks begin with RF spectrum and network planning. Therefore, if you’re evaluating CBRS for an upcoming network build, Airwaive is here to help. Our free RF planning and automated site acquisition platform streamlines the process. We are passionate about wireless and look forward to partnering with you, so click on the button below to schedule a call with the Airwaive team.

0 Comments

Airwaive

January 13, 2022

Related Posts

Visual Line-of-Sight (LOS) in Photorealistic 3D Map View

Visual Line-of-Sight (LOS) in Photorealistic 3D Map View

Airwaive recently updated our line-of-sight toolset to include new functionalities. With a few clicks, you can now view potential point-to-point (PTP) obstructions with our recent integration with Google’s Photorealistic 3D tiles. Or simply enter two geopoints...

Now With 3M+ Fiber-Ready Poles

Now With 3M+ Fiber-Ready Poles

Airwaive recently added over 3 million fiber-ready utility poles to our host database. As a complement to towers & rooftops, poles can provide even greater coverage. Furthermore, the average lease for poles is considerably lower than that of rooftop and towers.2D...

Announcing the Launch of Airwaive Visualize, Powered by AI

Announcing the Launch of Airwaive Visualize, Powered by AI

We’re thrilled to introduce our groundbreaking new product, Airwaive Visualize.  Leveraging the power of generative artificial intelligence (AI), Airwaive is at the forefront of bringing this advanced technology to the telecommunications industry, paving the way for a...

Photorealistic 3D in Airwaive

Photorealistic 3D in Airwaive

Airwaive, a leading provider of cutting-edge mapping solutions for the wireless industry, is thrilled to announce the launch of its highly anticipated Photorealistic 3D feature. Leveraging the power of Google technology, this groundbreaking addition enables users to...

50th Anniversary of First Cellular Call

50th Anniversary of First Cellular Call

Today, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most important calls in history.  On April 3, 1973, history was made when Martin Cooper, a researcher at Motorola, made the world's first cellular call from the streets of New York City. Using a prototype of the...

Introducing Airwaive Academy

Introducing Airwaive Academy

Airwaive is excited to announce the launch of the new Airwaive Academy, an educational platform that provides comprehensive information and resources on wireless networking. From cellular networks to WiFi, 5G and more, the Airwaive Academy is designed to help...

How Does Airwaive Mining Work Without Investing in Hardware?

How Does Airwaive Mining Work Without Investing in Hardware?

“What hardware is required to mine Airwaive to become a host?” has been frequently asked since we launched. The short answer is that you don’t need to invest in specific hardware to start with Airwaive.  First, Airwaive is an Airbnb-inspired marketplace platform that...

Get our Newsletter

Want to to keep up with the latest Airwaive news and industry information? Subscribe to our blog.

Stay up to date with the latest from Airwaive