Southern Linc seeks OK to conduct CBRS experiments in Alabama

Southern Linc wants to conduct technical trials to evaluate the 3.5 GHz CBRS band for supporting critical electric and gas communications applications. (Pixabay)

As Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) inches ever closer to commercial deployment, Southern Linc is asking the FCC for permission to conduct technical trials to evaluate the performance of 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum to support critical electric and gas utility communications applications.

Southern Linc filed an application for an experimental special temporary authority (STA) for a term of six months, with a start date of July 1. However, once the FCC starts the Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) period for the 3.5 GHz band, the company may terminate the use of the STA and continue equipment evaluation and product development under the ICD through a partner Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator.

Southern Linc explained that it wants to test LTE equipment in the CBRS band for the purpose of conducting technical radio research. The company operates a commercial 800 MHz ESMR system with an all-LTE platform, providing interconnected voice, dispatch, push-to-talk, text and picture messaging, internet access and data transmissions over the same handset. Its service territory covers parts of Georgia, Alabama, southeastern Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida.

Ericsson transmission equipment, Google Pixel 3 devices and units from Telit and Sonera are listed as gear to be used in the trials.

Part of the rational for the experiments is to examine the ability of a mobile end-user device to seamlessly roam between a 3.5 GHz CBRS base station using up to 40 MHz of spectrum and an 800 MHz Band 26 base station using 3 MHz of spectrum.

“Additionally, the testing is intended to confirm that the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum band can provide the necessary capacity and latency for various applications and use cases in support of electric and gas utility operations, including, but not limited to, AMI backhaul, SCADA, remote engineering access, telephony, push-to-talk, fault monitoring, general workforce mobility applications and other applications such as street lighting, cameras, gunshot detection devices and parking monitoring and enforcement devices,” the company wrote.

Southern Linc plans to incorporate SAS/Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) integration of equipment into the trial once SAS and ESC alpha and beta testing become viable with at least one party, which would enable Southern Linc to evaluate the integration of the equipment and utility communications services with the SAS and ESC.

Moving ahead

After a long period of tests and trials, entities working in the CBRS space have been chomping at the bit to launch commercial services. On June 25, the engineering lab of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) reported that it had shared SAS laboratory test reports with the commercial entities that participated in spectrum sharing testing at the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS). The reports are deemed a critical part of advancing the sharing model in the CBRS band.

The SAS manages the environment where potential commercial spectrum systems will operate. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to use the test reports in certifying that an SAS is in compliance with its rules.

Federated Wireless, which appears to be leading the pack in this space, already submitted test results to the FCC in an effort to keep the CBRS ball rolling.

RELATED: Federated Wireless submits report card to hasten final approval for CBRS

“This detailed report validates the report card that we filed a few weeks ago, showing that our Spectrum Controller passed 100% of the tests,” said Kurt Schaubach, CTO at Federated Wireless, in a statement provided to FierceWireless on Wednesday. “This allows us to formally move onto the next review milestone which will lead to the start of ICD.”

Prior to the ITS report, Google also submitted summary results of lab tests that showed its SAS passed all laboratory tests, and CommScope on June 25 filed a SAS certification report card with the FCC indicating its SAS passed 100% of the tests administered by ITS.