Startup Federated Wireless working on spectrum sharing scheme for 3.5 GHz

A Boston-based firm founded by a group of scientists is building a system that will help operators, government entities and others navigate the tricky world of spectrum sharing in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band, or Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The FCC has said it intends to apply spectrum sharing to the 3550-3650 MHz spectrum band and is considering extending that service to the 3700 MHz, which would provide a total of 150 MHz of spectrum to CBRS.   

Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi, a former Sprint (NYSE: S) executive, is cagey about the specifics of Federated's concept, but told FierceWireless:Tech that the company is currently developing a product, which he said will allow entities to dynamically manage spectrum on the fly. That product is expected to be ready sometime in 2015.

The system, according to Tarazi, has the ability to assign spectrum to be used at a low cost so that customers do not have to make a big investment. "Our product ultimately has the ability to assign spectrum at low enough cost so you don't need as much core network investment," he said. "If a carrier has 5 MHz by 5 MHz of spectrum in a band they have to work hard to manage that."

He added that he believes one of the reasons small cell technology has been slow to take off is because small cells require dedicated spectrum. Instead, he envisions being able to assign small cell vendors a different spectrum range, which would eliminate interference between products and lead to a more open ecosystem. "Requiring a lower investment will bring in additional radio players," Tarazi predicted.

Tarazi, who left Sprint last March, was instrumental in developing the company's Network Vision network modernization plan. He said that Federated's business appealed to him because he believes there is a lot of opportunity for solving spectrum conundrums. He also believes that in the future R&D will be done by small startups that can attract investment dollars rather than in large companies with R&D divisions. "You no longer have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on R&D. You just need access to the right ideas," he said.

Although it operates like a startup, Federated is really a division of Allied Minds, which manages and funds businesses that develop products and technologies that are developed at U.S. universities and research institutions.

Federated does face some competition in this area. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said earlier this year that it was joining chipmaker Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and infrastructure vendor Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) on field trials of spectrum-sharing technology in the 3550-3650 MHz band at multiple locations.

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