CommScope running in SAS pack dominated by Google, Federated Wireless

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CommScope, Google, Federated Wireless and Key Bridge Wireless were conditionally approved as ESC operators in the CBRS band. (Pixabay)

Google and Federated Wireless tend to draw headlines for their roles in the FCC’s development of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3.5 GHz band. Both are preparing to serve as Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators, which is key to making the whole shared spectrum model work.

But CommScope said it’s one of the major three in the first wave of SAS companies to develop for CBRS. “We are right there neck-and-neck with Federated and Google waiting at the starting line for certification,” said Mark Gibson, director of business development at Comsearch, a CommScope company.

RELATED: Google’s Preston Marshall on company’s 3.5 GHz CBRS SAS system: ‘We’re probably the furthest along’

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Right before Mobile World Congress in February, the FCC announced it had conditionally approved four entities for providing the Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) for the 3.5 GHz band. CommScope is one of them, along with Federated Wireless, Google and Key Bridge Wireless.  

The ESC operators will manage a sensor system designed to detect the presence of federal incumbent radar transmissions in the band and communicate that information to one or more SAS administrators. Toward that end, CommScope is negotiating with tower providers, building managers and others in order to set up a coastal sensor network of about 100 sites.

CommScope has described its sensor technology as a Software Defined Radio module enclosed by IP67 enclosure with power over Ethernet and Ethernet/IP-based backhaul. The sensor includes a high-performance RF front end, a baseband processor and co-processor.

The expectation is that the SAS providers will be certified before the end of this year. Gibson said everybody is working hard to meet the schedule, which includes coordinating efforts with the Department of Defense, NTIA, FCC and others. The SAS administrators will need to be interoperable as well.

RELATED: Federated Wireless debuts CBRS Spectrum Controller, gets backing from Charter, American Tower, Arris

CommScope has been known in the infrastructure arena for a long time, but the spectrum management space is something different. “I think we have to kind of work harder to get our name out there,” Gibson told FierceWirelessTech.

The CBRS rules are currently under review at the commission. One of the issues is how to treat Citizens Broadband Service Device (CBSD) registration information. Some argue that public disclosure of anonymized CBSD registration data is necessary to optimize productive use of the CBRS band. But CommScope, through Comsearch, has said it strongly believes that CBSD registration information should be protected and that SAS administrators should not publicly disclose the CBSD registration information.

CommScope is not the only other contender in the SAS/ESC space. Nokia also submitted a proposal to become a SAS administrator and appears to be working to meet that status. Sony and Amdocs also submitted applications, as did Rivada Networks, Red Technologies and Finland’s Fairspectrum.

CTIA was in the running last year for SAS and ESC operations but withdrew those plans in November. The association continues to advocate for its members in the CBRS band.