Unleashing CBRS potential for utilities and private networks

By Dudy Cohen 5 min read


Bidders recently paid over $4.5 billion for priority access to CBRS spectrum. How can they leverage it to achieve internal network and application evolution targets? How can they seize the opportunity to create new revenue streams?

While these objectives are possible, two main challenges must be resolved by utilities and private network operators: (1) achieving rapid and efficient deployment and connectivity of access sites; (2) realizing efficient and optimized management of spectrum resources to deliver the highest QoS for internal and external customers.

 

As discussed in our previous post, the FCC recently auctioned off Priority Access Licenses (PALs) for the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band. It was announced that this auction raised more than $4.5 billion in bids.

Also as discussed, the winning bidders mostly pursue one or more of the following use cases:

  1. Tier-1 MNOs typically use CBRS bands, both PAL and General Authorized Access (GAA), to increase capacity in their networks, in order to answer the ever-growing demand for data as their networks evolve from 4G to 5G.
  2. MSOs, ISPs, CLECs, and rural operators utilize CBRS spectrum in order to extend their footprint and service offering, as a complementary solution to other access methods.
  3. Critical-infrastructure, enterprise and other private network operators usually utilize CBRS bands for internal purposes, but often augment those with some new service offering for external customers.

Internal and external opportunities

The third use case is unique in that it combines two targets – one internal and the other external.

The internal target involves upgrading and streamlining internal infrastructure, while serving multiple applications that are critical to business or service continuity.

For utility companies, for instance, those applications include distribution automation (DA)/smart grids, remote substation operation, advanced metering infrastructure, and workforce management and safety.

The external target, on the other hand, involves extending and expanding business by introducing a new offering (typically fixed wireless access) to existing and to new customers.

Meeting challenges, unleashing potential

Utilizing CBRS spectrum for both of the abovementioned targets involves deployment of a CBRS-based access network while facing two main challenges:

  1. Rapid and efficient deployment and connectivity of access sites, keeping in mind the unique regulatory requirements of CBRS
  2. Efficient and optimized management of spectrum resources to deliver the highest QoS to internal and external customers

Meeting these two challenges positively affects business continuity (related to the first target), external customer acquisition rates (which shortens time to revenue), and satisfaction levels (which lowers churn rates and raises ARPU).

Meeting the first challenge, rapid and efficient deployment of access sites, is highly dependent on two factors – site acquisition and site connectivity.

To optimize the access site acquisition process, access and transport solutions should be easy to install, compact, all outdoor, and highly reliable. Such access and transport solutions can decrease site acquisition time by as much as 50%.

Timely site connectivity also is achieved using an easy-to-install, ultra-high-capacity and all-outdoor wireless transport solution. Such a solution can shorten the site connectivity process from months to weeks and even days, while substantially reducing TCO.

Meeting the second challenge, efficient and optimized management of spectrum resources, can be a bit trickier. The reason is that the total amount of capacity per sector is limited by the shared spectrum available for the sector. A typical CBRS PAL allocation of 40 MHz, for instance, will yield about 800 Mbps for the entire sector. After capacity potential is exhausted, service is degraded as customers receive higher-latency, lower-capacity, and non-SLA service.

Hybrid access architecture can substantially bolster both spectrum utilization and QoS. In such an architecture, a high-usage customer or building that “saps” the sector’s resources is offloaded utilizing a point-to-point wireless connection (typically with E-Band). E-Band allows cost-efficient point-to-point connectivity of 2.5 Gbps (and, if needed, up to 20 Gbps). In this manner, CBRS spectrum is better utilized and a high level of QoS is preserved.

By helping you meet these challenges, Ceragon can simplify your CBRS network deployment and enable you to unleash its potential. We invite you to leverage Ceragon’s extensive experience, unique solutions, and “plan-to-maintain” service suite.

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