Google and CommScope are each providing their own separate Spectrum Access System (SAS) administration services, but they’re combining resources to jointly operate an Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) network for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz band.
The deal is notable because despite Google having the big-time name recognition, CommScope has been making a name for itself in the CBRS space. The company has been well-known in the infrastructure arena, but the spectrum management space is something different. Last month, AT&T announced that it had selected Samsung Electronics America and CommScope to supply the company with its first 5G-ready CBRS network solution, with CommScope providing the SAS.
While it’s conceivable that AT&T could always add another SAS to its repertoire, AT&T’s Gordon Mansfield told FierceWirelessTech that it doesn’t make sense to have more than one SAS at this point. The ESC capabilities that AT&T uses will also come from CommScope.
The deal with Google has no impact on CommScope’s work with AT&T, a CommScope representative told FierceWirelessTech. “We will use the ESC for all operators we work with. And we will cover the entire U.S. geography with the ESC,” he said.
CBRS spectrum is managed by SASs, which require an ESC network to sense radar operation. The ESC will alert the SASs of naval radar operations, so the connected SAS systems can reconfigure spectrum allocations for nearby CBRS devices to operate without interfering with naval activity.
CommScope and Google each will provide independent SAS services and jointly operate the ESC network, the companies explained. The ESC network is engineered for high availability with the built-in redundancy and requisite fault detection. As part of their collaboration, both companies share responsibility for overall network design.
“The ESC represents more than a check-the-box capability. To effectively manage spectrum, a SAS relies on accurate ESC notifications—that eliminate false positive readings—from a high availability sensing network,” said Milo Medin, vice president of Wireless Services at Google, in a press release. “We are excited to work with CommScope toward the success of CBRS.”
Google developed the ESC sensor and cloud decision engine and will operate the cloud that communicates with each SAS. CommScope will deploy and manage the operation of the physical network. CommScope and Google said they are working with the FCC and other governmental agencies to obtain certification of the ESC.
Google has been a long-time advocate for the CBRS space, using its significant firepower—and Preston Marshall, who literally wrote the book on CBRS—to help lead the ecosystem, including through the WinnForum and technical specifications that are at the foundation of the whole thing, which some still consider an experiment of sorts. The FCC will consider revised rules for the licensed portion of the band at its meeting tomorrow.
Federated Wireless, another big player in CBRS, has been working diligently on its own ESC network, a nationwide redundant network of sensors that identify and protect the federal agencies already using the 3.5 GHz band to make sure defense and government communications aren’t impacted by commercial users. That’s the gist of the ESC—to protect incumbents while enabling sharing in the band.
Most of Federated’s sensors are positioned on rooftops along the nation's coastline with a line-of-sight to the coast so they can listen for radar. The Navy doesn’t reveal where its radar is located, so CBRS has to rely on technology to “sense” it. While it sounds like a giant challenge to roll it out, Federated Wireless has said the really tricky part is ensuring the highest level of security for the Department of Defense.