Cellcom conducting trial with CBNL’s 28 GHz backhaul solution

Cambridge backhaul
Image: CBNL

Regional wireless service provider Cellcom, which serves customers in Wisconsin and Michigan, is conducting a trial of Cambridge Broadband Networks’ (CBNL) VectaStar 28 GHz backhaul platform as part of its outdoor small cell strategy.

"We’ve been quick to identify additional opportunities of 28 GHz, and are focused on continuing to maximize the band to scale our capacity and deliver the most modern LTE services,” Bob Sobieck, director of RF engineering at Cellcom, said in a press release.

“By investing in the most innovative technologies, such as this, we are able to unlock the benefits of millimeter wave and look forward to bringing these to market in the form of faster data rates and deeper coverage,” he added. "We look forward to working with CBNL and strengthening our long-term collaboration.”

CBNL, which was established back in 2000 by a group of engineers from Cambridge University in the UK, has been working diligently over the years to engineer systems that not only work, but are economical. Since launching in the 28 GHz LMDS band in late 2014, CBNL's VectaStar point-to-multipoint (PMP) platform has been deployed in nine states, including California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. In April of this year, CBNL announced the launch of its 39 GHz VectaStar variant.

With Cellcom, CBNL has an initial VectaStar trial underway. The vendor said its VectaStar innovatively reuses spectrum to offer efficient use of the 28 GHz band. For example, VectaStar’s FDD platform and proprietary dynamic µ-TDMA software can offer up to 4.4 Gbps of provisioned capacity per sector from just two 50 MHz channel pairs. 

The capacity of VectaStar, together with total cost of ownership savings of up to 50 percent compared to licensed point-to-point, has provided Cellcom with a business case to unlock the true benefits of millimeter wave, according to CBNL.

"Cellcom is the latest in a series of forward thinking carriers to target millimeter wave and select VectaStar as the technology that can maximize the spectrum to quickly scale backhaul and fixed wireless networks,” Mark Ashford, VP North America at CBNL, said in the release. “With the ability to deliver 14.4 Gbps per hub site and drive significant efficiency through spectrum reuse, VectaStar offers a transformational business case to scale networks and realize the true potential of this 5G spectrum."

CBNL figures it has about an 18-month to two-year head start over some others when it comes to supplying product for the 28 GHz band, which was part of the FCC's Spectrum Frontiers proceeding. The company's unique advantage most likely comes in what Ashford calls the "productization" phase.

"I'm sure there'll be other things out there. I think there's a lot of innovation in this space," including intelligent antenna array, he told FierceWirelessTech back in July. But, "when it gets down to it, it's the difference between field proven and something that's contingent on innovation which may or may not work."

For more:
- see the press release

Related articles:
Millimeter wave veteran Cambridge gears for more competition after Spectrum Frontiers vote
Cambridge Broadband gets early start on 28, 39 GHz
Vasona's traffic–shaping technology deployed by Cellcom

Read more on