CBRS Frequently asked questions
What does CBRS stand for?
Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service. CBRS refers to a portion of the UHF radio spectrum between 3550 – 3700 MHz that has recently (FEB-2020) been authorized for commercial use by the FCC.
When will CBRS be available?
CBRS is available today! Major wireless hardware manufacturers have items on their price sheets today. There is a growing list of End-User Devices (EUD) on the market. You may already have a smartphone or tablet that is capable of using band 48.
A CBRS implementation will require Band 48 capable access point radios, end user devices with SIM, access to some version of the CBRS backend data management structure, and a Certified Professional Installer (CPI).
How does CBRS compare with 5G and Wi-Fi 6?
CBRS offers enterprises access to a private 4G LTE solution. 5G solutions for the 3.5 GHz band should be available at a later date. Wi-Fi 6 is a complementary solution to CBRS and provides improvements in efficiency over legacy Wi-Fi solutions.
These are two distinctly separate wireless solutions, using unique hardware operating within different spectrum. While they can certainly operate concurrently within a common location, each will serve different use cases.
How do we know CBRS works?
CBRS uses, proven LTE technology. CBRS itself is an innovative new approach to spectrum management that allows individual organizations to reserve spectrum and run a private LTE network free from interference from neighboring wireless systems.
What makes CBRS different from Wi-Fi?
Each CBRS implementation requires a subscription to the FCC Spectrum Access Server (SAS), a licensed installer to access the SAS, SIM cards (and SIM management), and client devices that operate on Band 48 (the new CBRS radio frequency).
CBRS uses LTE technology. One primary differentiator between LTE and Wi-Fi is that the infrastructure is responsible for roaming events in LTE, where in Wi-Fi each client device will make these decisions. Notice that when you are on a cellular call in a vehicle you dont usually notice drops as your device roams from tower to tower. You may not have a similar experience in an office.
From an RF perspective, CBRS has increased range and better non-line of sight performance over traditional Wi-Fi. This means fewer access points to 'cover' a similar area.
What about support?
There are a variety of SLA's and support options available, ranging from low to critical priority service.
Kahuna-Fi can manage the subscription to the SAS. Companies manage SIM cards in-house, similar to an enterprise cellular phone plan.
Not just anyone can deploy LTE in licensed bands. The FFC requires a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) to deploy a CBRS network. In addition to being a CPI, Kahuna-Fi has over a decade of Wi-Fi network design across a variety of vertical markets. Our deep understanding and best practices ensure you get high-quality results.
As a certified CBRS VAR, Kahuna-Fi can offer a complete end-to-end solution with an approach that makes deployment and management as easy as Wi-Fi.
What is SAS?
Automated frequency coordinators, known as Spectrum Access Systems (SASs), will facilitate sharing among the three tiers of authorized users in the 3.5 GHz band and authorize the use of PALs and GAA operations with information from an approved Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) sensor. Following Auction 105, SAS Administrators will assign channels to PALs. The SASs will "assign geographically contiguous PALs held by the same Priority Access Licensee to the same channels in each geographic area" and "assign multiple channels held by the same Priority Access Licensee to contiguous frequencies within the same License Area," to the extent feasible. See 47 CFR 96.25.
SAS Administrators must be capable to receiving and responding to interference complaints from Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) earth station licensees in the 3600-3700 MHz band. SAS Administrators are required to implement and enforce additional protection criteria for C-Band FSS earth stations used for telemetry, tracking, and control using the same methods used to protect in-band FSS earth stations.
SAS Administrators are prohibited from disclosing disaggregated Citizens Broadband Radio Device registration data to the public, except where such disclosure is authorized by the registrant or required by law. SAS Administrators must make aggregated spectrum usage data for any particular area of interest available to the public.
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology, in close consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Defense, approved the following Spectrum Access Administrators to begin their initial commercial deployments:
What is a CBSD?
Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device - Per the FCC is an eNodeB (Enhanced Node B) which is capable of operating on LTE band B48 in the CBRS frequency spectrum. A CBSD is comparable to an access point in operation.
What is Spectrum?
Electromagnetic Spectrum, commonly refered to as spectrum, is the range of all possible electromagnetic radiation. This radiation exists as self propogating electromagnetic waves that can move through matter or space.
Examples of radiomagnetic waves include gamma rays, X-rays, visible light, and radio waves.
Radio waves occur in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Wi-Fi is in the 2.4 and 5 GHz range. CBRS is found between these bands of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range. All of these sections of the electromagnetic spectrum can be refered interchangeably as spectrum.
A great graphic image of the entire electromagnet spectrum can be found at
Unihedron.com. See if you can locate the Wi-Fi and CBRS bands. Look for visible light and human audible sound.
What are the three CBRS access tiers?
Tier 1 – Incumbent Access
Incumbent Access users include authorized federal users in the 3550-3700 MHz band, Fixed Satellite Service (space-to-Earth) earth stations in the 3600-3650 MHz band, and, for a finite period, grandfathered wireless broadband licensees in the 3650-3700 MHz band. Incumbent Access users receive protection against harmful interference from Priority Access Licensees and General Authorized Access users.
The US Navy and fixed Earth sattelite stations will be allowed continued priority access to the CBRS band. Frequency allocation will be managed by the SAS.
Tier 2 – Priority Access
The Priority Access tier consists of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be licensed on a county-by-county basis through competitive bidding. Each PAL consists of a 10 megahertz channel within the 3550-3650 MHz band. PALs are 10-year renewable licenses. For purposes of the PAL service, counties are defined using the United States Census Bureau’s 2017 counties. Up to seven PALs may be licensed in any given county, subject to a four PAL channel aggregation cap for any licensee. PALs must meet a substantial performance requirement by the end of the initial license term. PALs must protect and accept interference from Incumbent Access users but receive protection from General Authorized Access users. Technical rules for PALs can be found in Subpart E of Part 96.
Large companies or governments may purchase PALs at auction for a 10 year duration.
Tier 3 – General Authorized Access (GAA)
The GAA tier is licensed-by-rule to permit open, flexible access to the band for the widest possible group of potential users. GAA users can operate throughout the 3550-3700 MHz band. GAA users must not cause harmful interference to Incumbent Access users or Priority
Access Licensees and must accept interference from these users. GAA users also have no expectation of interference protection from other GAA users. Technical rules for GAA users can be found in Subpart E of Part 96.
GAA is where the majority of enterprises will operate with regard to the CBRS licensing model.
What is ESC?
An Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) is a system that detects and communicates the presence of a signal from an Incumbent user to a SAS to facilitate shared spectrum access. ESCs will detect federal frequency use in and adjacent to the 3.5 GHz band and transmit that information to the SASs.
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology, in close consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Defense, reviewed and approved the following three ESC Sensor Registrations:
Federated Wireless, Inc.