San Francisco working with Nokia, others on CBRS trial

The City and County of San Francisco is working with Nokia and other vendors to evaluate and test an LTE system in the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band.

The local government has submitted an application to the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) for the study of new wireless technologies for "effective monitoring and management" of its wireless camera technologies, IoT and SCADA systems.

“This study will provide valuable understanding of how camera technologies can most cost effectively be deployed, operated and managed to provide reliable and sustainable signal traffic IoT, SCADA systems, crime prevention technologies which need new high capacity wireless networks,” the San Francisco government told the commission.

The application identified Nokia as one of the vendors but didn’t disclose the others in the study in which coverage and performance measurements will be conducted. They plan to use up to two fixed site base stations and up to three mobile devices. All base station equipment is prototype hardware, controlled and owned by Nokia, the form stated. The intent is to operate the LTE uplink/downlink 24/7.

The exact slice of spectrum that San Francisco plans to use is key in this case. The application listed an antenna to be mounted on the existing Pier 45 building and another to be installed on the roof of an existing building at Pier 40.

The FCC has yet to grant the STA, telling the applicant through email correspondence that using the 3550-3650 MHz may be problematic so close to the ocean due to Navy radars that must be protected. It asked if the City and County of San Francisco could limit it to the 3650-3700 MHz, to which the city and county responded affirmatively, noting that currently it is authorized to operate at 3650-3700 MHz under call sign WQQU742 (under Part 90, Mobile WiMAX).

The application seeks a start date of May 31, ending on Aug. 17.

San Francisco’s interest in using the CBRS band is notable given the band was designed so that many other types of entities—not just wireless carriers—could deploy LTE in localized areas, like stadiums, shopping centers or other venues. The rules are still being re-finalized at the FCC after CTIA and T-Mobile asked for modifications, but the General Authorized Access (GAA) portion of the band is expected to be put to use before the end of the year.

The Priority Access License (PAL) portion of the band is likely to get teed up next year.

RELATED: AT&T eyeing GAA, but not too much until 3.5 GHz CBRS license rules are known

Wireless operators like Verizon and T-Mobile have said they are interested in using both GAA and PAL while AT&T's Gordon Mansfield told FierceWirelessTech earlier this year that he wants to see the final rules before talking about AT&T’s strategy.