A Guide to CBRS – 3 things you ought to know

May 9, 2019 | CBRS, Insights Blog

In our latest thought leadership article, Cameron Kilton, our Director of Sales for US Fixed Wireless Networks, talks about the importance of the CBRS initiative and the wide-ranging implications that it will have on the telecoms industry in the US.

For this article, I wanted to talk about the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), the impact that this innovative approach to radio spectrum sharing will have across the US and how it fits in to the changing landscape of 5G wireless.

So, let me take a step back and talk in more detail about CBRS, how will it affect the industry and end consumers, and what it means in practical terms. Here we go:

How CBRS Antenna works?

CBRS antennas are crucial for tapping into the 3.5 GHz band. These antennas are designed to support the unique requirements of CBRS, including compatibility with both licensed and unlicensed spectrum usage, and are engineered to provide reliable and efficient communication services. Here’s how these antennas work:

1. Spectrum Access System (SAS)

One of the key components that influence the function of CBRS antennas is the Spectrum Access System (SAS). The SAS dynamically manages the spectrum, allocating it among users to minimize interference. CBRS antennas communicate with the SAS to receive information about available spectrum and power levels they can use, ensuring optimal performance without disrupting other users.

2. Precision and Efficiency

CBRS antennas are designed to maximize the use of the 3.5 GHz band efficiently. They are typically built to offer high gain and directional coverage, focusing the signal precisely where it is needed. This is particularly beneficial in densely populated urban areas or for covering specific industrial sites, ensuring that the network capacity is used as effectively as possible.

3. Advanced Antenna Technologies

To enhance performance, CBRS antennas often incorporate advanced technologies such as beamforming and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO). Beamforming allows the antenna to direct the wireless signal towards specific users rather than dispersing it broadly, which increases efficiency and reduces interference. MIMO technology uses multiple antennas to send and receive more data simultaneously, significantly boosting the speed and reliability of the network.

4. Interference Management

CBRS antennas are adept at managing interference, a critical capability given the shared nature of the CBRS band. By utilizing advanced filtering and signal processing technologies, these antennas can distinguish between intended signals and potential interference, thereby maintaining a clear and reliable communication path.

CBRS and commercial broadband use
As there were no clear ways to enforce spectrum sharing in an efficient manner, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) first put forward the initial request to free up additional spectrum (beyond the 3650-3700MHz that NN license holders could use) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US industry regulator. The process to make CBRS available for commercial purposes started in 2012 and was completed recently. Some of the spectrum will continue to be used by the Federal Government/US Navy for radar systems.

Improvements to the telecom’s infrastructure
Although CBRS can use many technologies, it is heavily adopted globally by countries already producing Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology, which operates between 3300-3800 previously occupying bands 42 & 43. Now with CBRS its otherwise known as Band 48. The opening of 150 MHz of available spectrum will bring about significant enhancements to mobile broadband and other commercial uses. Networks must deploy a Spectrum Access System (SAS) to use the band, which ensures that everyone has the same spectral advantage for their needs.

Greater support and wider application access
CBRS allows providers to have access to premium mid-band spectrum for public and private fixed or mobile networks, supporting applications such as Fixed Wireless, Mobility, Public Safety, Utilities and the Internet of Things. Both broadband in rural areas and cellular in major urban markets will be able to co-exist, so effectively this will mean more devices operating simultaneously.

What’s next? In terms of release dates for CBRS, the FCC is currently certifying radio vendor hardware. The General Authorised Access (GAA) tier of the CBRS service could be released as early as this quarter (April-June 2019) with Priority Access License (PAL) auctions likely to start in early to mid-2020.

Leading the way in antenna technology

Although the CBRS spectrum is new to the US, Alpha Wireless has been providing antennas for this frequency range to its global customer base – typically heavy users of LTE and WiMAX in this band, such as Tier 1 network carriers and rural broadband providers – for well over a decade.

We’ve been making 3 GHz antennas for many years, and while we cater to NN license holders (3650-3700MHz) in the US market, our antennas support 3300-3800MHz in worldwide deployments. We’re developing products and solutions for all eventualities, so we’re ready now for the future!

In summary, CBRS’s impact will be felt across many different areas, including private LTE networks, rural broadband, arenas, stadiums and subway systems. And with Gigabit-Plus wireless and 5G just around the corner, it will likely be a major player in getting us all up to speed.

CBRS is all set and primed to play a crucial supporting role in the 5G revolution.

To find out more contact us today.



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