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Private Spectrum for Cellular & How Your Enterprise Can Utilize It

Curious about the private spectrum options for cellular wireless? We explain how they work and how they can be utilized by enterprises.

What Is the Private Spectrum?

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum is a lightly licensed, shared spectrum that enables enterprises to deploy private LTE/5G networks dedicated to their organization.

The private spectrum allows each business to have its own portion of spectrum on a county-by-county basis. This protects their communications from interference and helps ensure reliable communication.

Why Is the Private Spectrum Important?

Before the private spectrum, businesses relied on commercial networks to support their data needs; however, this wasn’t without its challenges. Enterprises, in particular, lose a level of control over their data, budget, and ability to control traffic on commercial plans.

The CBRS spectrum puts control back into the hands of the business by allowing them to manage all aspects of their cellular networks. This isn’t much different from how businesses control their own enterprise Wi-Fi networks.

Organizations can control their cellular resources on a granular level that’s not possible through commercial solutions. For instance, hospitals can design company-wide rules that ensure health monitoring sensors always receive a particular latency and throughput level—even if the network becomes congested.

The CBRS spectrum also enables enterprises to scale their technology confidently. The CBRS spectrum protects spectrum owners from interference through the Spectrum Access System. This system manages frequency assignments to prevent interference and optimize cellular traffic across the network.

What Is the CBRS Spectrum?

The CBRS spectrum is a new portion of the spectrum set aside by the Federal Communications Commission for private use. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service uses band 48 of the radio frequency spectrum, spanning from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz and covering 150MHz of spectrum. The spectrum is broken down into three tiers:

  1. Incumbents - Primarily U.S. Navy radars, ground-based radios, and satellite systems.
  2. Priority Access Licensees (PAL) - Enterprises, businesses, factories, hospitals, etc.
  3. General Authorized Access (GAA) - Unlicensed users, consumer IoT devices, phones, and other mobile devices.

Similar to the Dot-com Bubble in the late ‘90s, the private spectrum opens up the opportunity for businesses to build new services and technologies that were previously not possible.

Private vs. Public Spectrum

The biggest difference between public and private spectrum access is your protection from interference. For example, Wi-Fi is an unregulated spectrum meaning anyone can install a new router and begin broadcasting their network in the area.

This is great for ease of use but can create interference with other networks in the area. This becomes more of a problem in highly congested areas such as apartment complexes or dense city centers.

In order to broadcast on the private spectrum, businesses need licenses and CBRS-capable hardware. This specialized hardware allows devices to receive permission to broadcast from the  Spectrum Access System and protects communications from any outside interference.

How to Access the Private Spectrum

Organizations can access the CBRS spectrum by purchasing licenses from CBRS auctions or second-hand marketplaces. Licenses are granted on a per county basis for lease blocks of ten years. Alternatively, businesses can use the GAA unlicensed spectrum.

Companies can choose between LTE, 4G, and 5G networks based on their goals, budget, and application requirements. For instance, many industrial IoT sensors and robotics require ultra-low-latency 5G service.

Next, organizations will choose which devices they want on their private spectrum. Today there are a host of private spectrum devices available ranging from laptops and cell phones to indoor and outdoor access points. This hardware will be CBRS-capable, allowing you to access the private spectrum.

Just like your cell phone, each device requires SIM authentication in order to join the network. SIM cards can be physically inserted into each device or conveniently added digitally via eSIM through a QR code. SIM authentication provides a secure and passwordless way organizations can manage devices, provide levels of access, and track the identity of each device.

While there are many moving parts to a private spectrum network, Celona can help you plan, design, implement, and manage a cellular solution to meet your needs.

The Celona Solution

Celona has specific workflows for a CBRS Certified Professional Installer (CPI) user to manage Celona CBRS Access Points in compliance with FCC regulations.

Celona communicates with a Spectrum Access System on your behalf to allocate channels and power for each CBRS Access Point.  The CPI user configures the antenna type, location, and orientation, and Celona relays those parameters as part of the spectrum request.

Celona partners with enterprise organizations to provide private LTE and 5G services as a seamless turnkey solution. Celona’s unique 5G LAN solution utilizes cloud networking principles designed for enterprise environments and AI-powered automation to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.

In a private mobile network, businesses have the opportunity to control their data with more precision than ever before. With the market leading and patent-pending Celona MicroSlicing technology, enterprises can also control which specific applications get the latency, throughput, and packet error rate service levels that they need.

Each of the Celona MicroSlicing policies can provide resources to different applications, services, or device groups—and enable seamless integration of existing enterprise network resources with private cellular.

Plug-and-play cellular access points can be quickly deployed throughout the campus, while proactive monitoring ensures network service-level agreements, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.

If you’re looking to build cellular wireless connectivity for your new digital initiatives, we can help. Check out our network planner to see what your Celona network would look like, and test-drive the Celona solution via product demonstrations and a free trial.

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