According to an April 4 press release from Verizon, itself and at least six other industry leaders are now working to accelerate deployment of 4G LTE over the CBRS spectrum the FCC first opened up in 2016. The news follows initial testing which started in 2017, leading to further tests in February. These new tests will be a continuation of the latter and are set to take place at Verizon's Irving facility in Texas. Meanwhile, its partners in the endeavor include Corning, Ericsson, Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
With regard to what the companies hope to accomplish, Verizon lists several key areas of concentration. The first is to gain further understanding of the commercial viability of using the CBRS shared spectrum, which covers the 150 MHz of 3.5 GHz range. That includes a focus is on traffic prioritization and the testing of both indoor and outdoor radio solutions that will make using the spectrum feasible in real-world devices. To that end, the trials will include testing and verification of the Spectrum Access System algorithms provided by Google and Federated Wireless, as well as the data rates, modulations, and customer experience of the spectrum. Interoperability will also be tested to ensure that licensed and CBRS spectrum can be used interchangeably via mobility handoffs. As to the role each of the remaining companies will play, Corning, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Nokia are responsible for supplying various technological components to be used in the testing. Qualcomm will supply LTE mobile modems for the tests, while Nokia is providing base transceiver stations for both outdoor and indoor use – as well as controllers for those. Ericsson is responsible for delivering its Radio System solution, which includes micro base stations and Radio Dot System for 4×4 MIMO and Carrier Aggregation on the SBRS spectrum. Corning's SpiderCloud Enterprise RAN will comprise the final component of the tests.
It goes without saying that Verizon is not the only company interested in using that spectrum to increase the number of available small cells for mobile connections. Comcast also recently expressed its interest in testing on CBRS to the FCC. However, Verizon's cooperation with other industry leaders may very well give it an edge when it comes to working in the spectrum. Testing will continue over the next several weeks, but the mobile carrier says it has already provided actionable insight and that consumer deployment should begin before the year is out.