CBNL ready to support millimeter wave auction winners

CBNL says it is uniquely able to support all mmWave bands from 24-40 GHz. (Pixabay)

One of the many companies that will be watching the FCC’s upcoming 28 GHz auction and subsequently the 24 GHz auction is Cambridge Broadband Networks (CBNL), which has been working in the fixed wireless access and millimeter wave space for more than 10 years.

CBNL bills itself as the market leader in millimeter wave licensed point-to-multipoint (P2M); its customers include Windstream, Vodacom, Airtel, Vivint, Level 3, Orange and Telefonica. It also did work for Straight Path and XO, which are now owned by Verizon.

In fact, CBNL, an early pioneer in millimeter wave, says it’s unique in that it’s able to support all mmWave bands from 24-40 GHz with deployments across FCC and ETSI-targeted bands.  

The upcoming 24 GHz auction is of particular interest because it will include licenses in seven 100-megahertz blocks by Partial Economic Area, making 700 megahertz of greenfield spectrum available with 100 MHz channels. That’s an ideal place for enterprise access solutions and backhaul, which are two areas of expertise for CBNL, according to James Childs, VP of corporate strategy for North America at CBNL.

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CBNL has built its legacy around the benefits of P2M, and that’s a very different architecture from point-to-point systems. Its secret sauce, if you will, revolves around how it does scheduling in a P2M way that allows for maximum capacity to multiple delivery points, he said.

CBNL is particularly keen to see more 5G spectrum auctions in the U.S. because that will presumably lead to more business. It has long seen the benefits of millimeter wave, but things are coming together now—both in advances in technology and the availability of spectrum—so that wireless operators and other stakeholders are getting into the game.

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“The real advantages of tomorrow are, with this plethora of spectrum and the versatility of these types of solutions, including Cambridge, you’re entering into a world where it’s actually possible to support” high throughput to fixed wireless customers and deal with the mobile traffic that originates in any given sector. That’s the biggest differentiator that 5G brings to the table, Childs said.

Some operators were asking the FCC to bundle more spectrum bands together to hold one big millimeter wave auction, but the FCC explained in its draft public notice that it disagreed and said that adding more bands would inevitably delay the 24 GHz auction.

The FCC said the current configuration of the 39 GHz band is not conducive to 5G deployment because much of that spectrum is encumbered by legacy licenses that don’t conform to the FCC’s proposed licensing scheme, and they need to get that sorted out. Plus, the 37 GHz band is right next to the 39 GHz band, and to maximize the efficiency of those bands, the FCC wants to auction them off together.