Verizon, Qualcomm and Ericsson partner on field trials of 3.5 GHz spectrum sharing

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is 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.

In an entry on Verizon's public policy blog, Patrick Welsh, director of Verizon federal government affairs, said the three companies filed applications with the FCC for the field trials, which will use the 3.5 GHz spectrum for a supplemental LTE downlink with Verizon's existing LTE network. This will "enable the addition of 3.5 GHZ capacity to an existing lower band coverage network," he explained.

Verizon has rolled out LTE nationwide using its 700 MHz band spectrum and is now adding capacity in many markets by implementing LTE on its AWS 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum.

Welsh added the field trials will help Verizon understand the propagation characteristics of 3.5 GHz spectrum in a real-world environment.

The FCC intends to authorize new spectrum-sharing techniques to open up the 3.5 GHz band for wireless broadband services, small cells to increase network capacity and other licensed and unlicensed uses, creating what it calls a Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The commission is still soliciting public input on its plan for 3550-3650 MHz spectrum. The agency is also pondering extending CBRS spectrum upward to 3700 MHz, providing a total of 150 MHz of spectrum for the service.

The regulators intend to create a three-tier licensing scheme for CBRS, but several industry players have advocated a two-tier model called authorized shared access (ASA), which is akin to Europe's version, licensed shared access (LSA).

Welsh said Verizon, Qualcomm and Ericsson also will collaborate with Ericsson subsidiary iconectiv later this month on lab tests of ASA/LSA technologies at Ericsson's facilities in Plano, Texas. Iconectiv, the brand name for Telcordia Technologies, is one of the FCC's authorized database administrators for TV White Space spectrum, which also relies upon spectrum sharing to open up vacant TV broadcast channels for wireless broadband use.

Via the Texas lab tests, the companies intend to prove that spectrum sharing using ASA/LSA technologies "can complement Verizon's LTE network while protecting government operations from harmful interference," according to Welsh.

He emphasized that Verizon's interest in spectrum sharing does not mean the operator has abandoned its support for auctioning spectrum for exclusive use when feasible. He said Verizon backs new approaches such as spectrum sharing between commercial and government users in instances when government operations cannot be moved to new frequencies because alternative spectrum is unavailable or costs are prohibitively expensive.

For more:
- see this Verizon blog entry

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