Caribe Royale deploys CBRS neutral host network

Caribe Royale Resort, located seven minutes from Walt Disney World and 11 minutes from SeaWorld Orlando, bills itself as “a destination that offers all the connection you could ever imagine right within reach.”

But when it comes to wireless connections, that hasn’t always been the case, according to the companies working to upgrade connectivity at a 55,000-square-foot convention center at the hotel. Caribe Royale has a Wi-Fi network and a carrier-owned distributed antenna system (DAS), but visitors and staff have still struggled to get a signal when the resort fills up with tourists and conventions.

Juniper Networks, Caribe Royale’s Wi-Fi provider, told the venue about CBRS, and the hotel decided to deploy a neutral host private LTE network at the convention center.

The project brought together a number of vendors: Geoverse provides the evolved packet core, SIM cards, system integration and network management. Ericsson supplied five indoor small cells (Radio Dots), and Google provides the Spectrum Access System, enabling Caribe Royale to use CBRS spectrum under General Authorized Access (GAA).

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Tony Eigen, director of marketing and communications at Geoverse, said the goal is for the private LTE network and the Wi-Fi network to “operate in concert versus behave as disparate networks.” The first step is the creation of a portal that gives the venue visibility into traffic patterns on both networks.

Eigen added the portal is also useful for carriers that connect to the neutral host network and want to understand when and where people are using it. He declined to name those connecting to the Caribe Royal network, but said there are two major carriers onboard.

Geoverse is a subsidiary of ATN International, which owns wireless and fixed networks inside and outside the U.S., and has more than 90 roaming agreements in place with major carriers. ATN International claims to be the largest wholesale roaming partner for U.S. carriers, enabling Geoverse to add roaming capabilities to private networks.

Neutral host CBRS networks have an advantage over carrier-owned DAS, Eigen said, because the venues own the networks and are therefore better able to monitor and manage performance, and understand usage patterns.

The Caribe Royale network was scheduled to launch in November, but supply chain issues have pushed that date back to January. Trials started with the Geoverse core hosted in the cloud, and then the venue decided to bring the core network onsite.

Eigen said the hotel plans to upgrade its Wi-Fi network to Juniper Mist, which will enhance the coordination between Wi-Fi and cellular on the property. (Mist was an artificial intelligence specialist, which Juniper purchased in 2019.)

Juniper and Geoverse are offering enterprise customers a bundled solution consisting of AI-driven Wi-Fi and private CBRS. The companies claim enterprise customers will be able to extend the footprints of their Wi-Fi networks without adding new cabling, expand access options for CBRS-enabled devices, facilitate seamless connectivity on public transportation and connect enterprise LANs to multiple service provider networks.