CBRS Alliance Launched To Help Manage 3.5GHz Spectrum

Modern LTE networks use a wide range of different wireless spectrum frequencies, as do other services like satellite phone and internet, TV, and radio. As the FCC's spectrum auction nears what may be the tail end of the actual auction phase, 150 MHz of spectrum opened up for commercial purposes in the 3550-3700 MHz range hangs around mostly unused. That very high-band spectrum could be carrying a large volume of data and doing so quite quickly, or it could be used to provide a number of LTE-based services using relatively little of the actual spectrum range. Called the Citizens Broadcast Radio Service spectrum cluster, the loose spectrum has attracted the attention of a band of wireless industry players calling themselves the CBRS Alliance.

Back in February, when the CBRS spectrum was first opened up, a number of companies decided that they would come together and build up an alliance of industry players to help ensure optimal use of the spectrum. The formation of the CBRS Alliance is the first concrete step toward this goal. At present, the alliance consists of only six companies; Access Technologies, a branch of Alphabet, along with Federated Wireless, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ruckus Wireless. As the CBRS spectrum is set to be loosed and set up with various services worldwide, The CBRS Alliance believes that "economies of scale" will begin popping up around the services that can be provided using this spectrum, and that proper management of the spectrum to create LTE-based services can expand LTE coverage into brand new areas, and strengthen coverage in weaker urban areas.

Among the project's board members, the vice president for Qualcomm's business development department, Neville Meijers, is set up as chairman. According to Meijers, the "ever-growing demand for LTE-based solutions" drives the alliance's goals of expanding networks as efficiently as possible using the new spectrum. As things stand right now, most data consumption happens indoors, while most of the capital expenditure set to happen in the wireless space in the near future, at least in the US, is set to push rural coverage or small cell networks that will mostly expand and strengthen outdoor coverage. The Alliance plans to help guide use of the CBRS spectrum to bridge that gap. According to analyst Stefan Pongratz, CBRS spectrum, and thus the CBRS Alliance, have a unique position and opportunity to improve networks in the US and abroad because the CBRS spectrum services cause almost no interference with existing solutions, allowing a wide range of products in areas that overlap current services, and expansion into previously uncovered areas where spectrum overlap with local TV and radio services may have been a challenge.

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