Kajeet is the latest company to launch a neutral host private wireless platform aimed at providing indoor coverage using the General Authorized Access (GAA) unlicensed portion of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum band. The company is targeting municipalities, universities, hospitals and virtually any type of property owner with its neutral host product.
Kajeet's Smart Private 5G Neutral Host solution will initially support 4G LTE voice and data services but will migrate to 5G as demand for 5G grows. “The primary driver for this is improved coverage,” said Jamaal Smith, Kajeet’s VP of sales and business development for private networks. “All coverage is 4G so this is sufficient for most customers.”
Kajeet is using equipment from Airspan with a multi-operator core network (MOCN) gateway but Smith said that it will use radios from other RAN manufacturers as they become certified.
Kajeet says it provides carrier-class connectivity and differentiates itself from other neutral host private wireless offerings because it can provision and activate subscriber devices on the network and support multiple RAN vendors and technologies. In addition, Kajeet has agreements with T-Mobile and AT&T to provide their customers with connectivity. Smith said that the company is hopeful that Verizon will join the mix but does not have an agreement with the operator.
Kajeet’s first deployment is in a study hall building on the University of Virginia campus. The company is currently conducting a pilot in that building with AT&T but it will be commercial in the first quarter of 2024. The private network will be commercial with T-Mobile by mid-December, Smith said.
Although the initial deployment is just in one building on campus, Smith is hopeful that it will expand to several other buildings in 2024. However, much of the expansion depends upon the University’s budget.
But Smith says the beauty of Kajeet’s neutral host private network is that it cost a lot less to deploy than a distributed antenna system (DAS), which is often used in stadiums and airports to provide indoor coverage in high density areas. “This uses less equipment, less power and less heating and cooling,” he said, adding that he believes the cost of a neutral host private network is 50% to 70% lower than a DAS system.
While wireless operator agreements are a critical component to Kajeet’s solution, Smith said that the company’s customers are the building owners, not the operators. However, he envisions that there might be certain situations where an operator may contribute to the cost of deploying a neutral host network if it’s in a building that is important for the operator’s footprint.
Kajeet isn’t the only company to launch a neutral host private wireless solution. The number of neutral host offerings using CBRS GAA spectrum are proliferating. Celona and InfiniG both recently announced neutral host solutions that have operator support and more are likely to follow.
“There’s a lot of people dabbling in it,” Smith said, adding that the key is to have signed agreements with the carriers. “Without that we don’t have a product.”