Cox Communications launched a new pilot program with the city of Las Vegas that involves the deployment of a Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) network in a local park to monitor attendance and keep an eye on after-hours activities.
Set up in Baker Park, the system will be used for parking lot management, safety detection and threat analytics, among other things.
According to a press release, the learnings from the pilot will “empower Cox and Las Vegas to push the boundaries of how networks of the future can be used to scale and support solutions and services.” Put another way, its achievements will determine if the city wants to expand elsewhere.
The pilot program in Baker Park is for 12 months. Cox said the combination of its existing fiber network with the city’s infrastructure will accelerate the ability to deploy solutions and provide an “ideal path to a long-term, sustainable solution” should the pilot prove successful.
The CBRS network initially will support video cameras and sensors fixed to existing light poles throughout the park. A combination of cameras and radar sensors will be connected to CBRS-enabled wireless bridges that are fed from a central three-sector radio site, the company explained.
By smartly leveraging the data, the city can send extra patrols to the park only when needed, thereby saving resources, and the privacy of park visitors is protected via encryption of confidential, personal and sensitive data, according to the company.
Cox was one of the successful cable bidders in the 2020 CBRS auction of Priority Access Licenses (PALs), but the company is using unlicensed spectrum for this deployment, a spokesperson said. As for where it goes next, the company is in “active discussions” with other cities, but it’s not ready to name names.
More broadly, it’s also not commenting about plans to operate as an MVNO at present (after a rather turbulent history in the wireless industry). That’s not much different than what Cox said last year, when the cable operator revealed that it was “exploring” the wireless space more aggressively but wasn’t sharing any specific plans.
Things could be changing. Light Reading reported on a new hire in the form of industry veteran GS Sickand, whose LinkedIn profile shows he joined Cox just this month as VP of Wireless Engineering. Most recently at Mavenir, Sickand spent more than 10 years at Ericsson and before that, Nortel. Now he’ll be sharing his expertise at Cox, where he’s working on 5G network architecture.