CBRS Alliance, ATIS collaborate to enable commercial CBRS

shopping mall
CBRS spectrum will be available for LTE networks in venues like shopping malls, stadiums and apartment buildings. (Pixabay)

The rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the U.S. are still being worked out at the FCC, but thanks to some behind-the-scenes technical work by the CBRS Alliance and ATIS, they’re prepared for CBRS commercial deployments.

ATIS, which is the North American organizational partner for 3GPP, collaborated with the CBRS Alliance via ATIS’ International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) Oversight Council (IOC). The IOC oversees the U.S. assignment of the IMSI resource, a 15-digit international identifier that allows for network roaming. 

Through the IOC, and in collaboration with CBRS Alliance, ATIS developed a new IMSI code that is specifically allocated for use by CBRS spectrum operators. IOC will also begin administration of an IMSI Block Number (IBN) under the oversight of the IMSI administrator, iconectiv. The IBN will be assigned to CBRS spectrum operators to support the implementation of network services.

“We are quite pleased to see another important milestone achieved along the road to commercial deployment of LTE in the CBRS band,” said Nokia’s Chris Stark, chairman of the CBRS Alliance, in a press release. “This joint decision ensures that the availability of IMSIs meets the innovative needs of the wireless industry through a user-friendly process for shared spectrum deployments. We are grateful to ATIS for collaborating with us to establish this advanced solution.”

One of the most promising CBRS use cases is neutral host: allowing any venue that is open to the public to provide cost-effective LTE service to guests, regardless of their mobile network operator, according to Nokia’s Al Jette, who chairs the CBRS Alliance Technical Work Group.

“The Alliance has defined how neutral host services will work using shared CBRS spectrum, and this new IBN category acts as a catalyst to enable that framework,” Jette said in the release.

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In the U.S., the CBRS spectrum is in the 3.5 GHz band, which is right next door to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that the FCC will be talking about at its next open meeting in July. The FCC will vote on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks more detailed feedback on how to make better use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, commonly known as the C-band.

It’s not clear when the FCC will determine final rules for the 3.5 GHz band, but plenty of progress has been made by the CBRS Alliance members to continue moving their processes forward.