Nokia, Alphabet, Qualcomm take CBRS to the racetrack

Nokia race car (Nokia)
Nokia used CBRS base stations to cover the track and spectator area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 3.5 GHz demo. Image: Nokia

The companies that collaborated to build a virtual reality zone inside stock race cars wanted to demonstrate something impactful, so they staged a demo at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to show how the new CBRS spectrum can be used to host an LTE network and deliver 360-degree 4K video streaming from inside the race cars traveling around the track.

Nokia brought the 3.5 GHz radios, Alphabet delivered on the Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Qualcomm Technologies’ LTE modem provided the in-car connectivity for the trial, which streamed video in real time using YouTube Live Events. It marked the first SAS demonstration of a live event and one that showed just how 3.5 GHz can be used to offer new experiences. The idea is to give spectators a chance to experience what it’s like to be in the race car that’s traveling around 185 mph.

“We wanted to demonstrate something that would be seen as a difficult use case,” Chirs Stark, head of strategy and business development for North America at Nokia, told FierceWirelessTech. “I think between us we actually managed to create a phenomenal experience streaming out of the car.”

While a lot of moving parts needed to come together to make it happen, the demonstration showed how CBRS shared spectrum can be used by an enterprise, campus, venue or other group to deploy their own private LTE network—completely changing how wireless technology and services traditionally are delivered. All three companies are members of the CBRS Alliance, which was formed last year to promote and support the emerging CBRS ecosystem.

For the demo in Las Vegas, Nokia said it customized the private LTE CBRS network with the first multiframe configuration TDD LTE network that used config 0 and 64 QAM for high uplink data rate from the race car and config 2 for high downlink data rate in the spectator area. It also used Smart Scheduler configuration and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) to deliver low latency and seamless mobility.

RELATED: FCC puts final rules in place for spectrum sharing in 3.5 GHz band

The FCC finalized rules for the 3.5 GHz CBRS band less than a year ago, setting up a three-tiered sharing structure designed to protect incumbent users. In December, the FCC announced that it had conditionally approved seven SAS administrators for the band, including Google, Federated Wireless, Amdocs, Comsearch, CTIA, Key Bridge and Sony Electronics. The SAS is to coordinate the three tiers so the band is available for commercial use on a shared basis with existing federal and non-federal incumbents.

While the CBRS Alliance started out with just a handful of members that wanted to collaborate on 3.5 GHz, it’s now grown to 34 members, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, Comcast and Charter Communications.

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