Enterprises are increasingly aware of shared CBRS spectrum as an alternative or complement to Wi-Fi, and some systems integrators are starting to specialize in deploying private wireless for corporate customers.

“Customers are asking about the technology by name,” said Cristine Kimbrel, senior product manager, 5G and OnGo, at systems integrator Black Box. “These private networks are being adopted as either an alternative or complementary to existing wireless infrastructure for mission critical operations.”

Like the Wi-Fi Alliance, the OnGo Alliance (formerly the CBRS Alliance) has created a certification program for equipment to indicate it meets interoperability and security standards. The group says its goal is to enable deployments that mirror the simplicity of Wi-Fi.

But for now, the average enterprise IT department can’t install a CBRS network. So vendors are partnering with integrators that can take on this job.

Black Box, which is part of India’s ACG Networks, recently joined Nokia’s global partner program with the goal of deploying OnGo private wireless solutions.

“Private wireless and emerging private 5G networks are poised to redefine the corporate wireless networking space”, said Bill Holman, vice president and general manager of 5G technologies at Black Box. “Large campuses and sites like airports and large logistics and distribution hubs are pushing current WLAN standards to their technological limits.”

Black Box plans to use Nokia’s Digital Automation Cloud to give enterprise customers “exactly the wireless connectivity they need,” Holman said. The solution includes radios, a core network and a Spectrum Access System, thanks to Nokia’s partnership with Key Bridge Wireless.

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"Customers looking to address use cases requiring a higher-level of security, reliability, mobility, and range are turning to private wireless as a solution," said Evan Forrest, global industrial partner manager at Nokia.

Black Box is targeting the industrial manufacturing market and said manufacturers are already asking the integrator to incorporate OnGo into their wireless networks. The company said its customers will be able to purchase the Nokia CBRS solution as an upfront investment, a subscription, or a combination of the two.

CTS provides CBRS private wireless

Black Box is not the only company offering CBRS as a managed service. Systems integrator CTS also offers CBRS as a service, meaning CTS deploys and owns the network, and charges the customer a subscription fee.  Alternatively, companies can own their network but pay CTS to operate it. Or, they can hire the integrator to design and build the system, and then run it themselves.  

According to CTS, CBRS is a good solution for portable signage, mobile point-of-sale systems, or portable video cameras used for applications which may require artificial intelligence, like facial recognition. CTS also foresees CBRS as a neutral host solution for venues or campuses, as carriers start to unlock the band so smartphones can connect to it.