Comcast seeks new experimental CBRS license

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
Comcast says it has “unique plans" to test operations in the CBRS band and use the spectrum to enhance its wireless telecom service offerings. (Comcast)

It’s no secret that Comcast is interested in using the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band, but its latest application for an experimental license suggests it’s got more up its sleeve than it wants anybody to know.

As part of its applications to conduct CBRS tests in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the cable giant is asking for confidential treatment of certain information pertaining to its “unique plans to test operations” in the band and to use the spectrum to enhance its wireless telecom service offerings. Comcast said it has never made this information public.

While much remains a mystery, Comcast did reveal that it wants to conduct tests using equipment from Ericsson and Ruckus. Tests at both sites are due to last for one year, commencing on April 15.

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The pre-commercial outdoor field trials will evaluate coverage, throughput and mobility, as well as test the performance of pre-commercial equipment in the band. To ensure compliance with the operational restrictions in the NTIA’s 3.6 GHz exclusion zone, all the tests will be limited to the 3650-3700 MHz band.

As for the end user equipment, Comcast said the experiments will use traditional mobile handsets, USB mobile dongle hotspot devices and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot devices.

RELATED: Comcast eyes 3.5 GHz CBRS for both fixed and mobile applications, including commercial handsets

In February, Comcast, which is a member of the CBRS Alliance, was granted permission to conduct CBRS tests for one year in Philadelphia, starting March 1, which is when a previous license to test in that market expired.

Cable companies have been pursuing tests in the CBRS band for quite some time. Last year Charter Communications said its initial tests of fixed wireless services in the 3.5 GHz band showed that it could provide 25 Mbps services at “significant distances.”

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