Federated Wireless sees momentum building in 3.5 GHz

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Progress is underway to prepare the shared 3.5 GHz band for commercial products in the U.S.

Federated Wireless’ expectations remain high for delivering commercialized products for the 3.5 GHz band in the second half of this year as momentum continues to build for what’s also known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS), or innovation, band.

The company for some time now has said that it’s targeting the mid-2017 time frame for the commercial launch date for its product, and “we’re right on target for that,” Federated Wireless’ CEO Iyad Tarazi said. “I feel very comfortable that between the regulatory and standards, between the OEM integration, between the trials and the productization technologies that we’re doing that we will have commercial 3.5 GHz activities in the second half of ’17.”

The 3.5 GHz band in the U.S. represents a whole new ball game in terms of how spectrum is used. It’s a mix of licensed and unlicensed, and the three-tiered system that the FCC devised to protect incumbent users and open it up to commercial uses hasn’t been done before in the U.S. A complex system of Spectrum Access System (SAS) providers and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) operators is required to make it all happen.

But Tarazi cites encouraging developments toward the end game. In December, Federated Wireless and Alphabet’s Access team demonstrated interoperability between their independently developed SAS platforms, a key component to making the multi-SAS administered CBRS band work.

That same month, the FCC announced that it had conditionally approved seven entities as SAS administrators in the 3.5 GHz band, including Federated Wireless, Google, Amdocs, CTIA, Comsearch, Key Bridge and Sony.

“We feel very comfortable now that we’ve closed the open questions, whether it has to do with the FCC or the DoD at this point,” Tarazi told FierceWirelessTech. “It’s no longer sort of ‘let’s try it out and see what happens.’ This is real now because the design has been complete, the process of establishing the standards has been complete, the documentation of how these systems would work is complete and now we’re going through the preparation for the testing.”

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A lot also has been accomplished through the CBRS Alliance, which was formed last year by a handful of companies but has grown to more than 30 members. Some of the members of the alliance—Nokia, Alphabet’s Access Group and Qualcomm—recently staged a 3.5 GHz demo at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to show how venues and enterprises can deploy a private LTE network and offer new services; at the speedway, they delivered real-time 4K video from cars going more than 180 mph so spectators could experience it as if they were on the racetrack themselves.