Shared Spectrum Makes Everyone a Mobile Operator (and that’s a good thing)


It’s been a busy week for CBRS.  Hot on the heels of a note from our respected competitor Spidercloud, Brocade also promotes their CBRS plans.

The world of spectrum licensing is evolving fast. Well, fast compared to the normally glacial pace of regulatory change.  The shared spectrum model the FCC has embraced for CBRS is the most advanced of several current models, including Licensed Shared Access (LSA) in Europe, and TV-Whitespace globally.

From a certain angle, in a bright light, with your eyes screwed up tight, you can see CBRS’ lineage back to the shared access model that emerged in Europe under the banner of the “DECT guard band” – a small amount of spectrum set aside in Europe to protect short-range Cordless Telephony from interference from cellular DCS1800 transmission in the band next door.

In the end, DECT was robust enough, and DCS1800 clean enough that the guard band wasn’t needed. European regulators responded to requests from stakeholders (ip.access included) and released the spectrum back to the industry.  Some countries just distributed it to the incumbent licensees, but others licensed it in a shared model for low-power deployments.

The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands adopted similarly radical approaches, and recently the UK regulator Ofcom announced that it has authorised the deployment of LTE equipment in this band, following a request from TalkTalk to clarify the technical requirements.

ip.access has been exploiting this shared access model from the outset, and is continuing to do so with CBRS and beyond. The momentum behind TV Whitespace and Licensed Shared Access continues to demonstrate the value the industry sees in shared access spectrum.

It’s a fundamentally brilliant model. It gives end users the cellular access they crave with spectrum that can be leased as needed. All the speed and flexibility of unlicensed, with all the quality of licensed. What’s not to like?

The Viper™ product line, announced earlier this year at MWC’16, for which we were awarded the special Judges Award at the Small Cell Forum Awards in the summer, was designed with CBRS and all shared access models in mind.  It works at its best providing controlled resource allocation between operators, and measuring what you’ve carried for each of them.  It looks forward to a 5G world of virtualisation and network slicing to give the lowest cost, most flexible, best quality network there is.  It’s great when there’s an operator with under-used spectrum which they’re looking to fill (and, despite reports to the contrary, there’s plenty of that).  It’s great for tower-sharing companies looking to increase their value-add by sharing the base station and the spectrum as well as the tower.  It’s great when you’re using shared access CBRS spectrum and can carry calls for MNOs, MVNOs, fixed-line carriers and anyone looking to take control of their mobile broadband.  Viper adds a competitive edge to the benefit of consumers, enterprises and mobile operators everywhere.

So bring on the announcements.  CBRS is the biggest game-changer since the transition to digital.  We’re looking forward to it.

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