Federated Wireless racks up 40 trials for 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum sharing system

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Federated Wireless announced back in February that its spectrum controller was granted conditional certification from the FCC, signaling to operators that they could begin trials.

Federated Wireless, one of the founding members of the CBRS Alliance, has been involved in some 40 trials, progressing from technology trials to operational, and it still expects to see certification from the FCC for its 3.5 GHz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) product before the end of this year.

The company has finished more than half of the trials and others are ongoing, according to Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi. Currently, trials revolve around things like integrating with an operator lab or collecting operational requirements from a carrier, but Tarazi stopped short of naming names, saying more information is likely to become public near the end of the year.

Tarazi, who previously led Sprint’s Network Vision network modernization project, said he expects to see launches of CBRS services late this year or early next, starting with wireless ISP type providers, followed by wireless operators. “We’re progressing in multiple areas that matter,” he said.

Federated Wireless announced back in February that its spectrum controller was granted conditional certification from the FCC, a significant step that signaled to operators that they could begin trials with the Federated Wireless solution.  

Last year, Federated Wireless and Alphabet’s Access team reached a major milestone in demonstrating interoperability between their Spectrum Access System (SAS). Federated Wireless is also working on providing sensors for the Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) that will be required as part of the whole three-pronged sharing system that the FCC created.

RELATED: Federated Wireless, Alphabet's Access hit milestone ahead of 3.5 GHz sharing

Some CBRS Alliance members have urged the FCC to move faster toward fully certifying the SAS and ESC networks. Last month, a group of 17 entities, including Google, Boingo Wireless, Microsoft and American Tower, sent a letter to the FCC urging the commission to stick to the CBRS rules it adopted in 2015 and affirmed in 2016.

Meanwhile, operators like T-Mobile have said that the 3.5 GHz spectrum is a core band for 5G deployment around the world and that the U.S. will miss a huge opportunity if it doesn’t create a structure aligned with global 5G requirements.

Tarazi said he thinks there are some adjustments to the rules that could be made without disrupting the current model for sharing but allow for the band to be more attractive for operator investment.

“We want to see more investment in this band and I think everybody’s carefully maneuvering this process between regulators and industry partners so we don’t disrupt what we built together—the standards, the sharing model, the ecosystem, the general use type models,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “I think everybody’s careful not to disrupt what was already built.” Most of the discussions are about how to make the priority access part of the band more attractive to investment, and “we think that’s healthy, and we’re supportive.”

RELATED: Nokia, Ericsson validate 3.5 GHz CBRS gear with Federated Wireless’ SAS

He also said the sharing model in the U.S. does not preclude alignment with global standards. The most important part of global alignment is common chipsets and common components, and that’s already come about.

Expectations for the CBRS band call for it to be about 10 times more efficient than regular licensed spectrum, and that’s a huge value for everyone, he said.