Samsung, Verizon press for CBRS/C-band radio approval

Samsung and Verizon executives are urging the FCC to act on Samsung’s pending Petition for Waiver for 5G radios that support operations in the C-band at 3.7 GHz and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz bands.   

Samsung’s petition was called into question by CBRS users, including Charter Communications and WISPA, who want to make sure the radios don’t pose harmful interference to users of the CBRS band.  

WISPA said it didn’t oppose Samsung’s specific request for waiver insofar as it requests a higher out-of-band emissions (OOBE) from the CBRS band into a specific portion of C-Band. However, WISPA expressed concern that the waiver request could be misinterpreted to allow the CBRS side of the radio to use the less restrictive C-band OOBE limits.  

Last month, NCTA ‒ The Internet & Television Association also urged the FCC to ensure that Samsung’s 3.7 GHz/ CBRS base station will not cause harmful interference in the CBRS band and suggested that granting Samsung’s request could negatively affect the fast-growing CBRS ecosystem.

Rival equipment supplier Ericsson filed comments in support of Samsung’s waiver petition. Earlier this year, the commission granted Ericsson a waiver to permit the operation of its 3.7 GHz/3.45 GHz multiband radios. Ericsson also has a pending waiver request for a 3.7 GHz/CBRS multiband radio.  

Samsung argues its composite CBRS/3.7 GHz radio will offer public interest benefits, including more efficient use of the spectrum by operators like Verizon. As a leading manufacturer of mid-band phones and base stations, Samsung reiterated that it has a large stake in ensuring successful mid-band deployments.

“When tested in CBRS-only mode, the CBRS component complies with in-band CBRS technical standards, but a waiver is required for OOBE into the 3.7 GHz band,” Samsung told the FCC, according to a November 2 filing. “When tested as a unitary transmission of the composite radio, the radio complies with the highest level permitted for an individual component—i.e., -13 dBm applicable to the 3.7 GHz band.”

Samsung midband spectrum chart
Samsung explained that its proposed composite base station will simultaneously use CBRS (3550- 3700 MHz) and 3.7 GHz (3700-3980 MHz) channels. (Samsung)

Samsung added that it would be inconsistent with FCC rules and the Office of Engineering and Technology’s approach to require -25 dBm in the CBRS band for the unitary CBRS/3.7 GHz transmission and/or to limit application of the composite device rule to only those time slots in which both components are operating.

Verizon: Largest holder of C-band, CBRS PALs  

Late last month, Verizon representatives met with FCC staff to urge them to act on Samsung’s petition.

As the largest holder of both 3.7 GHz and CBRS Priority Access Licenses (PALs), Verizon has a vested interest in the success of both bands, “as well as ensuring that any operations remain free from interference,” they told the agency.

Use of a single radio rather than two separate radios significantly reduces deployment costs of radio, cabling and antenna equipment. The smaller size of a single, integrated unit also eases the regulatory siting process, and the use of a single radio reduces the weight and physical footprint of tower collocations, which allows for additional operators or equipment to be deployed, Verizon said.

According to Samsung, its multiband radios increase energy efficiency by 30% to 45% compared to two standalone units.

Verizon presumably would like to get its hands on the CBRS/C-band combination radio as soon as possible.

During Verizon’s Q3 earnings call last week, CEO Hans Vestberg emphasized the continued deployment of the C-band spectrum and said there’s some laws of physics in terms of how fast they can roll out that spectrum, but “there’s no one holding back any investments here in order to get the C-band to our customers as soon as possible.”