Syniverse gets its own private LTE network using CBRS

Syniverse jumped feet first into the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) space, developing its own private LTE network at its headquarters in Tampa, Florida, with the help of partners Ruckus Wireless and Federated Wireless.

The initial deployment started about a year ago with a Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The deployment includes a 200,000-square-foot, six-story building, and extends to a parking garage for both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Syniverse covered its entire building and the parking garage with 12 access points. “We’ve got great coverage,” said Mike O’Brien, group vice president for corporate development and strategy at Syniverse. 

Syniverse Innovation Lab
Richard Hodges, director of the Syniverse Innovation Lab,
stands inside the company's lab in Tampa, Florida, with
components of the private LTE network. (Syniverse)

This CBRS network at 3.5 GHz is being used to develop use cases; it’s not being used by the company’s administrative staff, although that’s a possibility down the line. It uses Syniverse's Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

“It started as part of our innovation lab and we said, rather than build it in the lab, let’s build it in the building so everyone would be able to use it because that’s really the intent of it,” O’Brien told FierceWirelessTech. It’s working with an unnamed partner in another state to set up a secondary location to show roaming between two LTE networks.

RELATED: FCC approves initial commercial deployments in CBRS

They’ve also been working with Affirmed Networks and Juniper, as well as using in-house know-how, to set up the system. Testing with vendors like MultiTech and Cradlepoint is part of the mix, in addition to devices like Apple's iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 in order to show a range of devices, from IoT to smartphones.

“We ultimately believe private LTE is going to have a variety of uses,” he said, from stadiums that want enhanced coverage to banks that are looking to secure machines at the edge—and everything in between, such as manufacturing and warehouses.

The company said it is not using a distributed antenna system (DAS) as part of this private LTE network.

Basically, they want to show enterprises how they can have their own private LTE network and reap the benefits of that, but they don’t need to know how to run an LTE network; Syniverse and its partners will take care of that part.

O’Brien, who attended the CBRS Alliance’s launch celebration event in Washington, D.C., last month, said he was enthusiastic about the technology before that and even more so afterward. One of the most exciting things is the mobile operator engagement, he said. Oftentimes, new technologies—think Wi-Fi back when that entered the scene—are seen as a threat, but now operators can embrace the idea of private LTE as complementary.

In 5G, they’re having to pivot from consumer-focused to enterprise-specific offerings, and private LTE helps operators in that equation. Their large enterprise customers can decide if they want to control the policy and devices on their campuses, and when the devices leave their space, they move onto the cellular network. They can also talk to enterprises that might be beyond their own LTE coverage. 

“You’re creating new conversations for the operators to have with the enterprise,” he said.