Federated Wireless prepares for CBRS deployments with 25 customers

Activities continue to heat up in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) space, with Federated Wireless announcing the submission of a supplement to its Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) application with the FCC, expanding to 25 planned deployments with customers spanning all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Granted, the government shutdown last month put a damper on the timeline for CBRS to get through the FCC certification process, but it’s quickly picking up steam. Back in December, the company reported having 15 customers lined up, a number that has nearly doubled.

“We did lose some time because of the government shutdown,” said Federated Wireless President and CEO Iyad Tarazi. But there’s plenty of infrastructure in the pipeline and more devices are coming—Samsung’s Galaxy S10 includes Band 48 support, as well as the Google Pixel 3—and more enterprise-class devices are showing up from multiple providers. “There’s no slowdown in this ecosystem,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “I can comfortably say there’s more than enough infrastructure now ready for commercialization.”   

Federated Wireless and its ecosystem partners still need the final FCC approvals, which could take several more weeks for the ICD phase. Meanwhile, Federated is touting customer wins with the likes of ExteNet Systems, which is partnering with Federated to roll out CBRS service in more than 1,000 sites in the coming months, and Syniverse, which is collaborating with Federated on a private LTE CBRS solution that will first be deployed at its flagship global headquarters.

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The FCC adopted rules in 2015 to allow commercial LTE services in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band when it’s not needed for radar operations. Federated Wireless has been busy establishing itself in the Spectrum Access System administration arena and developing the Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) component required to detect Navy radar along shorelines.

Federated is about 75% complete with getting all of its sensors situated along the coastlines and now expects a spring launch for that network. Auctions for the licensed portion of the CBRS band are likely in the early 2020 time frame.

Tarazi said there will be a variety of private LTE networks in the 3.5 GHz band when all is said and done. One of the areas that Federated Wireless has tried to accelerate is the open model that’s software-driven, where service is activated in hours rather than months. That’s part of the reason it joined the Kinetic Edge Alliance that was announced last week.  

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Federated Wireless has been engaged with Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project for quite some time and is working to expand that relationship. It also intends to be more active with the Linux Foundation.

Tarazi acknowledged that there are a lot of open source organizations out there, and Federated Wireless basically took a hard look at all the different groups and decided to work with an edge group that already exists in the Linux Foundation. “We want to work with them to expand it and add CBRS to it, so that’s in the works,” he said.

The reason Federated Wireless is involved in so many areas is pretty simple: the more CBRS access points, the more money it makes.

“Our philosophy from Day One has been enable every single segment for shared spectrum. Whatever was needed for carriers, we enabled it,” he said, noting the company has also worked to enable CBRS for cable and other segments. “Every segment we can enable just brings more users to the spectrum, which is ultimately our No. 1 objective.”