JMA’s new CUSP unit bullish on CBRS-enabled LTE

It’s been about two weeks since JMA announced its CUSP unit, a new division dedicated to supporting services that sit at the edge, and its leaders are ready to roll in the nascent Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) space, as well as 5G.

Greg Dial, who most recently served as executive director of network planning at Verizon, heads the new unit. Samir Vaidya, also a former executive director of technology at Verizon, is leading CUSP’s architecture and development.

JMA is among those trying to make a name for itself in the open infrastructure market. It touts its position with 100% software-based RAN. Others vying in the space include the likes of Mavenir, Altiostar, CommScope, as well as the usual incumbents like Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.

The CUSP leadership declined to comment on whether they’re going to take a stab at getting some business from Dish Network, which already sent out RFI/RFPs for a 5G network in hopes of becoming a fourth U.S. competitor. Dish has indicated it will cast a wide net when it looks at vendors that are not traditional wireless companies.

Established presence

JMA already has thousands of points of presence established in the U.S., with locations in Europe as well.

“It’s a pretty broad array of buildings,” everything from arenas, hotels, universities, corporate campuses, multi-dwelling units, airports and casinos, Dial said. “It’s really anything that requires either a neutral host platform or a strictly tailored platform,” including for carriers in some cases.

“There’s a lot of buildings across the United States that we feel are underserved from an in-building perspective,” Dial told FierceWirelessTech. Today, they’re traditionally served by Wi-Fi.

“The ability to go in with a CBRS private LTE and evolve into a private 5G system in a neutral host way is something that we feel is going to have a lot of legs,” he said. “Really what we’re looking to do is build, from the ground up, a neutral-host, edge services-type platform that’s going to enable new services at the edge.”

The CBRS Alliance, of which JMA is a member, announced earlier this year that it’s working on a new release to support CBRS over 5G. That work is expected to conclude in the fourth quarter, with expected service availability in 2020.

To be sure, CUSP’s ambitions are broader than CBRS. CUSP is its own division within JMA and will be hiring for web-based and software development type positions as opposed to the more traditional telecom skill sets. It’s talking to a lot of customers right now and evaluating the industry’s needs to determine how fast and broadly it expands.

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The folks at CUSP have been focused on looking at the things that actually matter with the move from on-premises to the cloud, and that involves looking at hybrid cloud models. “When you start pairing them with a network that is say, owned by the building, you can start coming up with some pretty interesting use cases for applications or services that you can run on the edge,” Vaidya said.

“We’re focused on specific things that we believe are possible to do today that would run on any edge type model,” that help improve things like distribution of data or compute for video that gets handled all on prem as opposed to having to ship everything off to a cloud, Vaidya added.

From a 5G perspective, Dial said few vendors are based stateside, and the lion’s share of JMA’s development is done in the U.S. Last year, it purchased Texas-based PHAZR, which developed unique millimeter wave technology.

“There’s something to be said certainly for having a U.S.-based entity and U.S.-based development for 5G,” given everything that’s going on in the industry, he said. Being software-based also brings it a speed advantage. “A lot of this is about the velocity in which we can enable 5G as well as the way we develop it.”