Verizon is asking the FCC for permission to conduct a series of field tests using the 3.5 GHz Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) band in Irving, Texas.
The application (PDF) states that the purpose of the proposed tests is to evaluate end-to-end CBRS architecture, as well as overall evaluation of TDD-LTE using 3.5 GHz and and of radio propagation characteristics of 3.5 GHz for indoor and outdoor installations. Verizon also wants to evaluate coexistence mechanisms with shared spectrum—General Authorized Access (GAA)—and Priority Access License (PAL) spectrum.
The trial will consist of up to 60 Category A small cells and up to six Category B Citizens Band Service Devices (CBSDs). Multiple vendors will be involved.
Plans call for operating the evaluation devices, both small cells and mobile units, for 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, during the test period, which would run for a year beginning around September 1. Both directional and omni-directional antennas will be used with the small cell systems.
The Category B gear will use Band 48 outdoors, while the Category A devices will use Band 48 and be mostly outdoor installations, with a few indoors. In addition, multiple mobile terminals will be used supporting Band 48 only using LTE-TDD.
The 3.5 GHz band in the United States is unique in that the FCC devised a tiered sharing paradigm that hasn’t been tried before in this exact method. The FCC is in the process of certifying providers of the Spectrum Access Systems (SAS), called SAS administrators, and providers of Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC). Google and Federated Wireless are among those that have been working to be SAS administrators.
But T-Mobile and CTIA have been pressing the FCC to consider changes to the CBRS band, saying circumstances have changed since the commission initiated the proceeding in 2012 and changes are necessary for the U.S. to remain competitive in the race to 5G. That, in turn, has led other companies to complain that changing the rules this late in the game will put their investments at risk.
Verizon has come out in support of CTIA’s request that the commission extend the PAL license terms from three to 10 years, provide an expectation for renewal of PALs, extend PAL geographic areas and prohibit the public disclosure of CBRS device registration information.
Verizon said it has already conducted extensive lab and field trials with multiple vendor partners, and access to 3.5 GHz will make its network faster and more reliable. The carrier believes the proposals that CTIA outlined provide the simplest and most efficient approaches to fostering both experimentation and the stability necessary for industry investment in the band.
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly has said that his hope is that the commission will vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking of “proposed enhancements” to CBRS in the fall and have an order by the New Year or soon thereafter.