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Getting up to Speed on CBRS

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

In today’s world, fast, frictionless wireless connectivity is expected everywhere. So much so it is being called the 4th utility. But that doesn’t mean it enjoys the same delivery infrastructure as does water, power, and gas. Organizations of all sizes face a wide range of wireless connectivity issues spanning capacity, coverage, and security. And have been primarily served by enterprise Wi-Fi and carrier-based public LTE, until now.

What’s the big deal about CBRS?

Industry insiders say CBRS could change the course of wireless communications in the United States, and some feel it can be as transformative for mobile networking as gigabit ethernet was for wired network performance. But will it be “better” than Wi-Fi?

We believe a professionally designed and implemented Wi-Fi network will cover most scenarios. Each project is unique, and many factors are considered during the design phase, creating a specific WLAN for each project. However, there are always those challenging projects where Wi-Fi can’t do it all. Enter CBRS. The FCC has recently made spectrum available to allow organizations to deploy their own private LTE network without having to rely on (or pay) a mobile network operator (MNO).

Uncrowded, contention-free spectrum

Organizations of any size and type are now able to have access to a portion of the 3.5GHz frequency band to deploy their private LTE networks. It is no longer necessary for an MNO to install expensive telecom-style equipment on site. Enterprises are now able to take advantage of cost-effective, easy to deploy and operate solutions that can be as simple to manage as their existing Wi-Fi.

A CBRS Private LTE network can deliver higher network reliability, range, security, QoS, and mobility than Wi-Fi because it operates in contention-free licensed spectrum and uses standards-based LTE technology. Meaning, no one else will be on your channels, and the tech is proven, we won’t be crossing fingers hoping that some magic protocol will have to work. Because CBRS operates on a private LTE network, it provides “clean air” that is 100% dedicated to the licensee.

Efficient, mission-critical connectivity

CBRS can support many use cases and workloads across a variety of verticals. Target applications that would be an excellent fit for a CBRS enhanced security and coverage include, mobile POS, video security, public safety, warehouse, transportation, industrial IoT, and event communications. The truth is anyone looking for secure private LTE coverage for their business can install CBRS today.

The tech behind CBRS spectrum sharing

A key differentiator between Wi-Fi and CBRS is the Spectrum Allocation Service (SAS). The SAS is used to find and assign available portions of the band within geographic areas by combining FCC registration records, a network of RF sensors (ESC), and detailed RF propagation calculations. The coordination between the SAS and the CBRS access points (CBSD’s) is what ensures how organizations get dedicated spectrum for its sole use.

Spectrum access will be administered using a three-tier system with the highest priority given to Incumbent Users (IU). The US Navy is an IU so CBRS installations close to shore may be affected by SAS allocation changes. Followed by Priority Access License Users (PAL), PAL’s purchase an amount of available frequency at auction. This frequency will be allocated at the county level. Finally, General Authorized Access (GAA). In most instances, an enterprise will participate in this tier. Unlike PALs, GAA users do not need to buy dedicated spectrum; however, access must be registered with the SAS to allow the SAS to prevent inference with higher priority tiers. An FCC licensed Certified Professional Installer (CPI) must be used to input data into the SAS.

How CBRS Stacks Up


- Higher reliability - No monthly subscriptions

- Better QoS - Full enterprise / organization control

- Proven, consistent security - Network available where you need it

- Seamless mobility - Indoor coverage

- Extended range non-line of sight - Low latency

- Fewer "access points" - Enterprise access to data


Frequently Asked Questions

What does CBRS stand for and is it new?

-Citizens Broadband Radio Service, CBRS refers to a slice of radio spectrum between 3500-3700 MHz that has been in existence for decades and has recently 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 (ED) on the market. You may already have a smartphone or tablet that is capable of using band 48.

How does CBRS compare with 5G and Wi-Fi6?

-CBRS is available now and offers 4G LTE that is controlled by the enterprise, not an MNO. 5G solutions for the 3.5 GHz band should be available at a later date.

-5G operates on a different spectrum than attenuates very quickly, therefore, it requires a very dense deployment = more access points.

-Wi-Fi 6 is a great complementary solution to CBRS and provides an improvement in speed and latency over legacy Wi-Fi solutions. However, it does not offer the benefits of having a private LTE network.

How do we know CBRS works?

-CBRS uses standard, proven LTE technology.

-CBRS itself is an innovative new spectrum model that allows individual organizations to reserve spectrum and operate a private LTE network free from interference from neighboring wireless systems.

What are some of the key differences between a Wi-Fi and CBRS deployment?

-Each CBRS implementation requires registration into the FCC Spectrum Access Server. (SAS), a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) is required to register all installations. Client devices capable of operating on band 48. SIM cards and a SIM card management platform.

-From an RF perspective, CBRS has increased range and better non-line of sight performance over traditional Wi-Fi.

What about support?

-There are a variety of SLA's and support options available, ranging from low to critical priority service.

Why Kahuna-Fi?

-Not just anyone can deploy LTE in licensed bands. The FCC requires a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) for all CBRS deployments. In addition to being a CPI, Kahuna-Fi has over a decade 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 Ruckus 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.



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