CBRS trial gets underway in New York’s Times Square

Times Square
Applications include video cameras, voice and video calls, and digital signage. (Pixabay)

In one of the first publicly announced deployments of Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced initial commercial deployment (ICD) last month, Connectivity Wireless and its partners said they're deploying a trial in New York’s Times Square.

The trial actually started on Sept. 30, and will last until Oct. 15. Partners include Sky Connect Networks, Ruckus Wireless, Federated Wireless and Athonet.

“This trial underscores our mission to promote economic development in Times Square by leveraging cutting-edge technology,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, in a statement. “We believe CBRS holds the potential to help deliver greater levels of security and improve the experience of visitors and businesses through digital innovation.”

With the amount of traffic Times Square gets—even when it’s not New Year’s Eve—it’s a challenging place for both carriers and private parties, including retailers and hospitality providers, to provide reliable connections. With the OnGo-branded LTE coverage at 3.5 GHz, Connectivity Wireless and its partners want to show how an agile, cost-effective solution like LTE can work on "clean spectrum" for operational and critical communications.

Here are some of the applications that they're talking about offering in Times Square:

  • Video cameras: Mobile and static video capture with AI-driven insights and machine learning for security, operations and enhanced visitor experience
  • Public safety: Push-to-talk applications for security and operational management
  • Voice and video calls on standard off-the-shelf smartphones such as the iPhone 11
  • Digital signage that can be deployed without cabling to support real-time video and public advisory messages 
  • Wi-Fi: Backhaul for Wi-Fi access to allow densification of local Wi-Fi networks and improved visitor experience

Wells Fargo Securities is holding a conference on CBRS in New York City today. The analysts told investors in a note over the weekend that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for CBRS services and a long list of players who stand to gain by its very existence. The 3.5 GHz band in the U.S. historically was used by the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense in coastal areas, and the federal government agreed that when not in use, the spectrum could be shared.

RELATED: AT&T, Google, Nokia part of ecosystem driving CBRS – analysts

Under a three-tiered spectrum access system, the FCC set up a way for this to happen between federal and commercial users through the use of Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) sensors. FCC-designated SAS administrators include Google, Federated Wireless, CommScope, Amdocs and Sony.