New iPhones support CBRS Band 48

Apple iPhone 11
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, September 13, and in stores beginning Friday, September 20. (Apple)

Besides preparing to celebrate the initial commercial deployment (ICD) of Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS), the CBRS community has another reason to pop the cork on the champagne: Apple’s new iPhone models support Band 48.

Other devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 and Google Pixel 3, support LTE Band 48, which is equivalent to supporting CBRS. But until Tuesday, it wasn’t clear when Apple was going to support the band.

Walter Piecyk, co-founder and partner of LightShed Partners—which happened to launch on the same day as Apple’s big news—noted the CBRS support in a tweet on Tuesday. LightShed is a new technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) independent research firm headed by telecom/wireless veterans and catering to institutional investors. 

“This is big news for Verizon which is running out of spectrum in population dense markets, and for cable companies looking to limit the amount of MVNO fees they pay as their subscriber bases grow,” he told FierceWireless in response to an email query. “It also opens up new business models for neutral host and third party service providers targeted at entirely new enterprise and consumer markets.”

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Verizon is a big customer for Federated Wireless, which just this week announced it will begin ICD of its services to more than 20 customers in urban and rural markets as soon as the Federal Communicatons Commission gives its public notice of approval. Cable company Charter is another Federated customer.

“Support for CBRS Band 48 in the Apple iPhone 11 rounds out the suite of available shared spectrum handsets and modules,” Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi said in a statement provided to FierceWireless. “This sets the stage for operators and enterprise alike to take advantage of 150 MHz of new spectrum for 4G and 5G services.”

The CBRS Alliance is holding an invite-only event next Wednesday in Washington, D.C., celebrating the launch of commercial activity in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly will be on hand during the event where attendees will hear about use cases of the OnGo-branded services, including network densification, IoT, neutral host networks, private LTE networks and—coming to CBRS next year—5G.

The ICD period for CBRS has been a long time coming. Next week’s event represents years of collaboration between the FCC, Congress, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of Commerce, WInnForum and more than 135 members of the CBRS Alliance.  

The CBRS band is unique in that it encompasses a three-tiered sharing system. Long dubbed the “Innovation Band,” the 3.5 GHz band in the U.S. is divided among protected incumbents—which include federal users like the U.S. Navy—as well as operators that will use auctioned Priority Access Licenses (PALs) and the unlicensed General Authorized Access (GAA). The GAA is available to carriers as well as public venues, property managers and others who want to improve their wireless networks and service capabilities. 

Article updated with comment from Federated Wireless.

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