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November 4, 2020

CBRS: The New Wild West of Wireless?

One of the biggest disruptions in the telecoms space this year is undoubtedly the CBRS auction in the US. It has caused a ripple of excitement across the industry, and understandably so, as it has the potential to be a real game changer.

Christian Barb, VP Sales NA
TAGS : USA, LTE, CBRS

One of the biggest disruptions in the telecoms space this year is undoubtedly the CBRS auction in the US. It has caused a ripple of excitement across the industry, and understandably so, as it has the potential to be a real game changer. 

Not only will it help operators to enhance coverage and capacity, but for the first time it will enable businesses to build their own LTE networks for business-critical use cases where connectivity had presented a challenge. It is seen as a huge driving factor for Industry 4.0 and the recent spectrum auction marks a turning point for wireless in the US. 

The potential of CBRS paints a bright picture, but the road to delivering its promised use cases is a long one that is laced with challenges. Particularly for enterprises that are looking to build private networks for the first time. 

Private LTE Networks 

For enterprises, a private network is a local, and as the name suggests, private cellular network that includes cell sites and core network servers to support an enterprise’s connectivity needs. It offers a superior connectivity option to Wi-Fi for critical applications, with better security, reliability, mobility, lower latency and will be the force that powers much of the Industry 4.0 progress we see over the next few years. 

The challenge is that for enterprises looking to capitalise on CBRS that do not usually work in the telecoms space, building their private networks from scratch can feel like stepping into the Wild West. Manufacturing, logistics, education and healthcare are the areas that hold huge promise for CBRS, but in many cases this is completely new territory for them. There isn’t a tried and tested way of making the most of the spectrum they have, and the risk of getting it wrong could result in spiralling costs and difficulties recouping their investments. 

Use Cases 

Many verticals are anticipated to utilize the CBRS private networks including but not limited to education, transportation, health care, manufacturing, utilities, mining, financial. Each of these verticals will rely more heavily on one or more aspects of a private network. Transportation, for example, will rely on the mobility capabilities of a CBRS private network while financial verticals will find the security of a 4G or 5G system to be of paramount importance. However, all these verticals will find one thing in common and that is their total independence from cellular operators, something which has not been an option before the onset of CBRS. This critical aspect allows the various verticals to enjoy total control and flexibility in terms of coverage, capacity, and the type of applications to be delivered by their systems.  

Experts as the antidote 

The answer lies in partnerships with consultants and vendors that truly understand the space. They have the expertise of what it takes to build private networks in a way that is cost and space effective and that takes into consideration current and future use cases to extend the life of the infrastructure. At RFS, we have 120 years’ experience taking our customers through the evolution of telecoms. From the advent of wireless technology, to the latest 5G we have a core understanding of how the industry landscape shifts and how to help our customers make the most of new developments, while minimizing the risk of their investments. 

Over the next 12 months, we will see how CBRS will alter not only the landscape of telecoms, but other industries. We are looking forward to guiding enterprises through the technology so they can make the most of the enhanced connectivity that is being promised.