Wireless communication has become a necessity in modern life. But when public LTE and Wi-Fi networks aren’t available due to coverage limitations or aren’t working well because of capacity issues, organizations in the U.S. are increasingly looking at the option of Private LTE networks based on Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) to meet their business connectivity needs.
Private LTE networks are non-public wireless networks based on cellular LTE technology. They are based on the same protocols and technology that public LTE networks use today. Small cells – similar to Wi-Fi access points – are installed on site and then operated by a managed service provider (MSP), the site owner (such as a shopping mall owner) or by the enterprise customer. Users can then use their Band 48-capable cellular devices with a private SIM to connect to the Private LTE network.
A Private LTE network offers performance and reliability that public LTE or Wi-Fi alone can’t match, and usually at a much lower cost. It offers uninterrupted connectivity along with the ability to handle heavy traffic loads, such as data coming from thousands of IoT devices. And it offers excellent penetration, with the ability to reach through building walls and other obstacles that might block a Wi-Fi signal.
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a new Private LTE network option now available in the U.S. It occupies 150MHz of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz C-band, also known as Band 48 (B48). Traditionally, this band had been reserved for users in the U.S. military and fixed satellite service. But this spectrum has recently been approved for broader use by the FCC, opening up opportunities for a range of new applications. Industry observers have said that “CBRS will put enormous wireless networking power into the hands of organizations that have never had such a promising and affordable option before.”1
You can learn more about CBRS from the OnGo Alliance in this video.
Access to CBRS spectrum is shared and actively managed among three groups:
CBRS technology is being developed and promoted by the OnGo Alliance, a non-profit industry organization of which Digi is a member. The OnGo Alliance has developed detailed specifications along with a certification program to ensure seamless interoperability for all network components.
Private LTE has several advantages over public LTE or Wi-Fi. Within the confines of the network, it provides an exclusive LTE network in uncrowded spectrum. It is deployed with dedicated equipment that increases device and data capacity and includes built-in security and controls not possible in public networks. It is tailored to put the enterprise customer in control.
Here are some additional benefits:
Private LTE is an attractive wireless option for any number of geographically defined areas, such as a seaport, mine or college campus, or inside a facility such as a hospital, factory, shopping mall or sports stadium. It can also provide low-cost “last mile” connectivity in rural areas.
Here are just a few promising use cases for Private LTE:
We are still in the very early days of Private LTE. Industry experts, however, believe it has the potential to dramatically expand the uses of wireless communication and reach previously untapped markets and unserved or underserved populations. No wonder it’s being called the “innovation band.”
1 Paul Pishal, “Soon, Reachable for All,” ISE Magazine, November 1, 2019