Industry Voices - OnGo’s outlook for private LTE deployments in the CBRS 3.5 GHz band

The CBRS Alliance anticipates OnGo-powered private LTE deployments to significantly increase over the next 6-12 months. (Getty Images)
Industry Voices

Over the past four years, our members have contributed incredible amounts of time, energy and innovation to develop reliable, secure and cost-effective wireless services for the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. In January, this all culminated in the FCC’s authorization of full commercial deployments (FCD) – ushering in a new era of wireless services and opportunities.

Since then, tens of thousands of CBRS base stations (i.e. CBSDs) have been deployed to satisfy a range of use cases, including mobile broadband, fixed wireless access and enterprise private cellular. The private deployments include a variety of sectors, covering education, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. As of May 26, 2020, 79 models of CBSDs had been authorized by the FCC, and 80 different client devices had been authorized – 15 of these being added just in the April/May timeframe. One additional Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator - Amdocs - was also authorized, bringing the number of available SASs to five. We are thrilled with the robust, diverse, and rapidly expanding ecosystem that has formed and the amazing pace of deployments.

RELATED: CBRS will bring change to energy and utility industries

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In February 2020 we fulfilled FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s prediction that the CBRS band would be the first mid-band 5G opportunity in the U.S., with the publication of specifications supporting OnGo configurations for 5G NR.

The CBRS Alliance hosted its first-ever virtual annual meeting in late April to review progress in the market and look ahead to the second half of 2020. We are proud to report that CBRS Alliance membership has nearly quadrupled since the inaugural annual meeting in April 2017 and now includes more than 160 active member companies. Increasingly, the membership not only includes network operators, WISPs, neutral solutions providers, vendors and other enablers - but also end-user organizations, such as the University of New Mexico.

Additionally, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance recently established the OnGo Together program. The program aims to share the power of OnGo technology to make a difference during this time by serving as a complement to existing wireless and wired services – particularly for the healthcare and education sectors. Many industry players have volunteered their equipment, network services and their expertise to get new wireless networks up and running wherever there is a need – from delivering emergency healthcare services to enabling online education to expediting the manufacturing of ventilators. We’re very grateful for this collective response.

What’s Next?

With many milestones behind us, it is time to refine our priorities for the remainder of 2020, including the introduction of the PAL tier and the expansion of private cellular deployments, which have been somewhat limited by the impacts from the pandemic.

Additional wireless connectivity is increasingly vital for enterprises as requirements continue to grow, and the opportunities for OnGo private LTE to help fill this need are substantial. Because they have historically not had access to cellular-oriented spectrum, LTE has not been viewed as a viable option for most private organizations - until now. With OnGo, private LTE solutions deliver high bandwidth, consistent performance, and strong security in "greenfield" spectrum.

Due to these benefits and new opportunities, we anticipate OnGo-powered private LTE deployments to significantly increase over the next 6-12 months as organizations harness CBRS to address business-critical applications and use cases. We will be focused on continuing to educate the industry as well as showcasing the many ways OnGo has already been deployed across various verticals. Examples include:

  • Healthcare: As has been covered recently, OnGo solutions are well suited to address the special requirements for patient monitoring and critical communications. OnGo’s robust security and its capability for on-premises data retention are also imperatives for healthcare providers.
  • Commercial Real Estate: OnGo-powered private networks offer enhanced connectivity for both building owners and their business tenants. Building management systems such as security and monitoring, HVAC control, lighting, etc. are able to be connected wirelessly with reliability and predictability. Business users can leverage OnGo for critical communications and also for future in-building cellular coverage as neutral host arrangements come into place.
  • Industrial: Industrial users such as manufacturers, transportation & logistics, and energy providers are eager to capitalize on the performance, coverage, and security aspects of OnGo solutions to meet their unique requirements in locations like factories, port facilities, power plants, and cargo-handling airports.

Over the next few months, we look forward to working closely with enterprise customers to clearly define the role of OnGo systems within existing enterprise networks. To help support this effort, the Alliance recently kicked off an educational vertical webinar series discussing the challenges and opportunities of OnGo technology within specific sectors.

Keep an eye on the event schedule here – and join our sessions to learn more about the benefits of OnGo private LTE.

Dave Wright is the CBRS Alliance Director of Regulatory Affairs & Network Standards. Wright played an instrumental role in the formation of the CBRS Alliance, collaborating with other founding members to create a robust multi-stakeholder organization focused on the optimization of LTE services in the CBRS band. He served as the Alliance’s first secretary from its launch in August 2016 and was elected as the president of the Alliance in February 2018.

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