Google wins Associated Carrier Group SAS business

Google says its agreement with ACG will allow more service providers to bring fixed wireless broadband access and additional wireless capacity to underserved areas. (Getty Images)

The Associated Carrier Group (ACG) has selected Google as its Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator for Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). Terms of the deal were not revealed.

The ACG membership includes the likes of C Spire, Cellcom, Bluegrass Cellular, Carolina West Wireless, Pine Belt Wireless and other smaller operators, for a total of 36 members based throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  

The group said that with anticipated speeds of 50-100 Mbps, CBRS will enhance speed while extending coverage and capacity of LTE networks.

With access to Google’s suite of cloud-based products and services for CBRS, including network planning, reporting tools and SAS/Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC) network, “ACG members will be well positioned for long-term success in spectrum sharing,” said ACG President Russ Lipinski in a statement.

Google and CommScope each developed their own SAS, but last year they announced they were combining their resources to develop ESC capabilities. Their ESC network is expected to be deployed by the end of this year, but for carriers whose business is predominantly in the middle of the country—i.e., not along the coasts, the ESC component is not imminently needed.

Google is all about getting more consumers hooked up with faster broadband, so its motive is pretty clear when it comes to the CBRS space. Plus, it's been a big proponent of spectrum sharing. 

“An important way we advance Google's mission is by ensuring businesses and consumers everywhere have access to high-quality Internet connections,” said Dave Vadasz, business development lead at Google, in a statement. “Our agreement with ACG will allow more service providers to take advantage of spectrum sharing, and bring fixed wireless broadband access and additional wireless capacity to underserved areas. We’re excited to see it spawn innovation and opportunities and continue to cultivate a thriving CBRS ecosystem.”

Google was an early entrant in the CBRS ecosystem, with participation in the WinnForum and its spectrum guru Preston Marshall writing a book on the subject. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) named five SAS administrators—Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google and Sony—that were approved to begin their initial commercial deployments (ICD) in the CBRS space. It was a long time coming, as the WinnForum, CBRS Alliance, FCC and industry officials worked years to get to that point, but now it's in a commercial kick-off phase.

RELATED: Google excited to see CBRS ‘alive and kicking’

CBRS at 3.5 GHz in the U.S. is often referred to as “the innovation band.” It was a product of the Department of Defense (DoD) and FCC putting their resources together to come up with a way to free up the spectrum for commercial use. A three-tiered structure was created to protect incumbent Naval radar operations along the coastlines while providing an opportunity for both unlicensed (General Authorized Access) and licensed (Priority Access Licenses) to use the band. An auction for the PALs is set for next summer.