January 27th, 2020 marked a pivotal point in the future of LTE and 5G networks in the U.S. On this day, the FCC announced their authorization of Full Commercial Deployment (FCD) of OnGo™ Service in 3.5 GHz CBRS Band, a move that they believe will unleash billions in value with new wireless services. This article provides some context leading up to this significant development, and explains the direct connection to the future of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) deployments.
OnGoTMPaves the Way for LTE & 5G
For some time now, the CBRS Alliance has been paving the way for LTE and 5G deployment through their OnGoTM service, system, and standards. Their March 2019 article entitled CBRS Alliance Extends OnGo™ Support for 5G Deployments made some key statements::
“OnGo™ shared spectrum solutions...will support OnGo™ over 5G. As OnGo™ commercial services over LTE are poised for rollout, CBRS Alliance Release 3 will address support for 5G deployments using shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. The shared spectrum paradigm presented by CBRS has immense potential.”
The article further explains how critical both the CBRS band and OnGO™ will be to 5G WiFi success:
“Utilizing the CBRS band can be a key enabler for making 5G deployments possible. The Alliance is hard at work developing technical specifications to ensure that OnGo™ supports 5G applications as seamlessly as traditional LTE services…
“The specifications in development include addressing coexistence requirements to ensure seamless interoperability between LTE and 5G NR in and out of Band 48, certificate-based authentication, and more.”
So we can see the direct correlation of CBRS access and the rollout of OnGoTM with the future success of both LTE and 5G. But how is this specifically relevant to 5G fixed wireless deployments?
Why CBRS Matters for 5G Fixed Wireless
To be clear, CBRS is not the only band that will be used for 5G. It may, however, be the band in which WISPs will have the greatest success. In the article entitled What is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)?, software developer Metaswitch states:
“Of the three primary frequency bands envisioned around the globe for the purpose of 5G, those in the mid GHz range are most appropriate for FWA. Providing superior coverage and moderate throughput, the 3.4-3.8 GHz band is appropriate for low density suburban or rural areas.”
This may explain the excitement sensed in the headline, WISPA Applauds CBRS Full Commercial Deployment, immediately following the January 27th Full Commercial Deployment announcement. Louis Peraertz, VP of Policy for WISPA, is attributed with the following statement:
“Today, after years of development, full commercial deployment of CBRS shared spectrum is a real thing, not a dream. Thanks to all for making that happen. In particular, the FCC must be commended, too, for shepherding the process along, and seeing the immense promise that the CBRS sharing model can and will bring in our spectrum-constrained world. The ‘CBRS experiment’ works, its ‘thesis’ proven…
“We cannot wait to see what it will do for the band and for other spectrum, as it fosters the development of an innovative solutions ecosystem, inspires new wireless business models, and delivers a new generation of consumer products and services here and across the globe.”
The Stage is Now Set for 5G FWA
The optimism of the CBRS Alliance is seen in their press release following the January 27th FCC announcement, which opens with, “Industry and Government Celebrate as the Nation’s First Mid-band 5G Spectrum Becomes Commercially Available.”
So 5G is here, but what should we expect for 5G FWA? The CBRS Alliance shares their vision for what lies ahead:
“The OnGo ecosystem is vast and opens a brand-new market for wireless communications and 5G services in the United States, touching rural broadband via fixed wireless providers (WISPs), enterprise IT, hospitality, retail, real estate, industrial IoT, and transportation, among other sectors.
“The CBRS Alliance and OnGo program have captured the imagination of operators, regulators and vendors around the world as a model for using spectrum that unlocks significant value. As we enter 2020, we will see OnGo used both as a reliable backhaul mechanism to other networks, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Ethernet, and to some innovative end-user devices. As OnGo-certified device support expands, we expect to see a growing number of devices that are OnGo certified, which will open up critical communications network opportunities in vertical markets, such as transportation, healthcare and facilities management.”
“With commercial deployments of OnGo already underway...OnGo is ready for full-scale deployments – enabling 4G LTE systems today and 5G NR solutions this year.”
Want More Info on 5G?
5G is a complex topic that is still unfolding, especially as it pertains to FWA. Chapter 12 of our WISP Guide 2019 on Preparing for 5G Networks includes additional 5G info, including how fast 5G will be, and how to become a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) as required for CBRS devices.
Download the guide today for additional info on 5G and other related topics.