Ericsson, Anterix collaborate on 900 MHz

Ericsson's radios will operate in 4G/LTE with the ability to transition to 5G in the future. (Pixabay)

Ericsson is no stranger to the enterprise space – or private LTE, for that matter. But it’s adding more to its portfolio by way of a collaboration with Anterix, the largest holder of licensed and contiguous 900 MHz spectrum in the U.S.

The primary business model behind Anterix is to lease 900 MHz spectrum to utilities. Ericsson and Anterix on Tuesday announced that they’re collaborating to deploy private network models in the utilities segment.

The FCC recently certified the Ericsson Radio 2212/2012 operating at 900 MHz, complementing Ericsson’s existing utility products using Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz spectrum. While the CBRS spectrum can be used to add capacity and target specific geographies, the 900 MHz spectrum is known for its coverage and “beachfront” properties.

Anterix was originally founded as pdvWireless in 2004 with leadership by Brian McAuley and Morgan O'Brien, co-founders of Nextel Communications. O’Brien currently is executive chairman of the Anterix board.

Last year, the FCC finalized rules that enable utilities to use 900 MHz spectrum, which was reserved for narrowband deployments, for broadband. That marked a big turning point for Anterix, which, led by folks like O’Brien, had been working for years to get the rules changed.

“It takes the wherewithal and the vision of the folks like Morgan O’Brien and what Anterix was doing with the FCC to really get the spectrum available,” said Ryan Gerbrandt, who joined the company in March of last year as COO.  “Utilities have been trying for this outcome for a long time, to be able to have foundational spectrum to build these critical infrastructure networks, and it’s been a challenge.”

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Nowadays, private networks are all in high demand, and it’s all coming together via the spectrum. “You have to have the spectrum to be able to uplock the potential of what I call carrier-grade technologies,” he said.

Ericsson had lobbied for changes to the 900 MHz band, noting how it’s ideal for LTE due to its propagation characteristics and its location makes it adaptable for international harmonization and economies of scale.

RELATED: Ericsson, pdvWireless urge FCC to take quick action on 900 MHz band

"We see private cellular networks as the principal catalyst for utilities in their digital transformation journey to address a multitude of use cases, both now and in the future," said Koustuv Ghoshal, head of Utilities, Energy & Industrials at Ericsson North America, in a statement. "It provides an opportunity to not only own and operate an asset that conforms to global 3GPP standards and universally benefits all business segments within utilities, but also addresses mission-critical needs of safety, security, resiliency and flexibility."

About a month ago, Anterix announced the Anterix Active Ecosystem Program, which now has about 40 members. The program is designed to foster the landscape for 900 MHz devices, services and solutions.