CBRS Alliance, Small Cell Forum collaborate to advance CBRS band

Given what the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band is expected to do for small cells, it’s no wonder that the CBRS Alliance and the Small Cell Forum have formally reached an agreement to cooperate closely to advance the CBRS cause.

Under a new agreement, the organizations will work together on a variety of initiatives related to the wide-scale adoption of small cells, network densification and the development, commercialization and adoption of OnGo-certified solutions for the 3.5 GHz band.

The groups have identified several areas of collaboration: investigating multi-operator solutions in the 3.5 GHz band, defining indoor solution architectures for densification and exploring the international opportunity for Spectrum Access System (SAS)-coordinated shared spectrum. 

“As the industry shifts to focus on network densification, we expect that small cells will be a key driver for the adoption of 4G and 5G solutions in the 3.5 GHz band,” said Alan Ewing, executive director of the CBRS Alliance, in a press release. “Together, the CBRS Alliance and Small Cell Forum offer a wealth of expertise that will raise awareness for the opportunities that shared spectrum offers small cell vendors, network operators, and others in the ecosystem.”

RELATED: Editor’s Corner—Despite controversy over PALs, CBRS is poised for commercial takeoff

Analysts have forecasted explosive growth for small cells once CBRS kicks off. The Small Cell Forum forecasts that unlicensed and shared spectrum could account for up to 36% of small cell deployments by 2022.

The CBRS Alliance said it’s working closely with industry and government entities to facilitate the testing and certification of OnGo small cells, referred to in the specifications as Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs). Through the partnership, both organizations will be closely aligned on technical specification requirements and testing results of CBSDs for both indoor and neutral host (PDF) use cases.

Some vendors have already demonstrated prototypes and conducted live trials using CBRS products in preparation for FCC certification.

The temporary shutdown of the FCC last month put a damper on the ability to get CBRS equipment certified, but the CBRS Alliance expects to see initial commercial deployment (ICD) in the second quarter of 2019, with full commercial service occurring in the third quarter. Of course, that could change with another shutdown, but that’s the most recent expectation.