Federated Wireless already in trials with unnamed operators: CEO

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Federated Wireless, which, along with Google, is hoping to be a Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator as part of the FCC’s 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) deployment, already has signed on with several trial partners and trials are underway, according to Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi.

Federated Wireless isn’t disclosing who those trial partners are – it will let them disclose if and when they’re ready to do so – and Tarazi declined to reveal what types of players those partners are, only saying: “We’ve seen a lot of interest from traditional and non-traditional operators.”

This past summer, Telrad Networks, a global provider of TD-LTE broadband solutions, announced a partnership with Federated Wireless to undertake a trial for a solution in compliance with the CBRS band rules. The joint solution aims to provide operators and other users of wireless technology with a seamless solution in the new CBRS band.

Federated Wireless is one of the founding members of the CBRS Alliance that was announced last month. The alliance was formalized to develop, market and promote solutions using the 3.5 GHz band. Other founding members are Google, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ruckus Wireless.

Federated Wireless and Google share the same goal of wanting to supply the SAS, but they also collaborate in the CBRS Alliance and the Wireless Innovation Forum (WinForum). The companies work well together, according to Tarazi, who spoke with FierceWirelessTech on the sidelines of the CTIA Super Mobility 2016 show last week. Tarazi used to work at Sprint as VP of network development and was instrumental in the Network Vision project.

In April, the FCC adopted rules for CBRS, which opens 150 MHz of spectrum (3550-3700 MHz) for commercial use and represents a big chunk of spectrum. It established a three-tiered system for users that includes an Incumbent Access tier, Priority Access tier and General Authorized Access tier. The three tiers are to be coordinated through a dynamic SAS, which will use sensors to determine when and where spectrum is available.

Some commenters in the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers millimeter wave proceeding said they did not want the 3.5 GHz spectrum sharing model to be replicated in the millimeter wave bands in part because it’s still unproven. Tarazi said he was not disappointed by that. “From my perspective, it’s more important right now to enable 3.5, to enable the model, to enable the technology and as people get comfortable with it, I think you’ll see more and more adopt it” because it brings value to everyone.

“I think a lot of the innovation is around the sensors and how you protect the government,” and that’s been a big focus of the WinForum. Much of the expertise now behind Federal Wireless – its founders are four scientists with deep Department of Defense (DoD) and academic backgrounds – came from that space, so there’s a lot of confidence in what they’re doing. With between 35 and 40 employees, Federated Wireless will continue to add as needed but it’s probably good for now.

A lot of pieces, including chipsets, OEMs and handsets, will need to come together to make the 3.5 GHz ecosystem work. “There will be a lot of trials, planning activities next year, and we would expect commercial use in 2018,” he said, noting that a consumer might begin to see the value in 2018 and it will pick up in 2019, making it available a lot sooner than some other spectrum still in the pipeline.

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