Bluegrass Cellular aims to extend CBRS tests in Kentucky

Bluegrass already holds special temporary authority (STA) for CBRS testing in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. (Pixabay)

Bluegrass Cellular is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to extend its Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) tests for another two years.

The cellular carrier last year was granted authority to conduct CBRS tests in the Kentucky towns of Elizabethtown and Cecilia, but that special temporary authority (STA) expires on October 4. Bluegrass is now seeking authority for a two-year period starting October 5.

The company isn’t planning any commercial services just yet, according to the application. Although the CBRS industry is gearing up for the initial commercial deployment of services in the General Authorized Access (GAA) unlicensed portion of the band, Bluegrass is still testing equipment from several manufacturers. It’s using two existing cell towers to host the base station equipment used in the tests.

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Bluegrass, which offers service in Kentucky to over 175,000 customers, is working with Federated Wireless, which is providing the Spectrum Access System (SAS). Federated is among a handful of pioneers eager to start commercial services in the CBRS band. Google and CommScope also have been making preparations to offer SAS and Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC) services to enable sharing in the band.

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The CBRS Alliance just yesterday announced it will be hosting an invite-only event on September 18 in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the launch of commercial activity in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. The event represents years of collaboration between the FCC, Congress, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of Commerce, WInnForum and more than 135 members of the CBRS Alliance.

The alliance notes that the band, known as the “Innovation Band,” is valued at $15.6 billion, opening the door for a “huge market opportunity” for enterprises and the broader U.S. economy.  

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is scheduled to be at the event, along with David Wright, president of the CBRS Alliance; Chris Stark, chairman of the CBRS Alliance; Adam Koeppe, SVP, Network Planning at Verizon; Craig Cowden, SVP, Wireless Technology, Charter Communications; Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); and representatives of the DoD and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).