CBRS: A Spectrum Sharing Success

In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the commercial deployment of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) – a major milestone for spectrum sharing in the USA. Furthermore, the FCC successfully completed Auction 105 for the CBRS Priority Access Licenses (PAL) in the 3550-3650 MHz band, which saw the largest number of spectrum licenses ever made available in a single FCC auction. In the months since, the CBRS ecosystem has rapidly expanded, with tens of thousands of indoor and outdoor deployments catering to a wide range of use cases. To us, this is proof of the opportunities enabled by spectrum sharing – market growth, increased stakeholder involvement in providing broadband connectivity, new opportunities for innovation, new use cases and an efficient use of the spectrum.

According to the FCC announcement, Auction 105 gross proceeds reached $4.6 billion, with net proceeds totalling $4.5 billion. A total of 228 bidders won 20,625 of 22,631 – or more than 91.1% – of available licenses. However, the opportunities made possible by CBRS commercialization go beyond the economy, facilitating the evolution of the ecosystem as the potential for new use cases expands and large-scale applications are realized.

For example, the American Dream Entertainment and Retail Complex in New Jersey has implemented CBRS to cover the entire 3 million square foot venue, servicing over 40 million annual visitors and more than 450 stores. Beyond the mall itself, CBRS has also been used for traffic and parking management, assessing approximately 33,000 parking spaces. Equipping security cameras, digital signage and other systems for both internal and external mall operations, CBRS has proved essential for supporting and enabling interesting new use cases such as this outside of public use Wi-Fi and cellular networks. It has been concluded that such IT infrastructures are faster and more economic than fixed infrastructures, offering reliable and simple, yet effective means of connectivity.


In Dallas, CBRS has transformed airport communication systems, moving airport staff and management connections onto the CBRS spectrum. Such deterministic spectrum access is critical in emergency scenarios to cater to higher power requirements and improve overall spectrum coverage. This network support is critical to airport communications and coexists with a robust Wi-Fi network, which is vital for providing passengers in transit with seamless connectivity when roaming.


On the west coast, the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, has adopted CBRS capabilities to support its internal communications within the stadium, lightening the load on the Wi-Fi system, similar to that of Dallas’ airports. Since the full commercial deployment of CBRS, they have also been working as a neutral host provider, offering Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) support in managing signal traffic for customers attending events. By not only supporting internal connectivity for both staff and customers but extending this service for the reinforcement of existing MNOs, CBRS has presented the opportunity to eliminate barriers and limitations, providing full, flexible coverage whenever it is needed – even when roaming.


A whole host of private network opportunities, from smart energy to smart city, are beginning to emerge. From business to leisure the development of smart offices, airports and stadiums have been initiated as Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) are able to harness this newly available spectrum. Even WISPs which typically operate in rural areas, who have been using this part of the spectrum for the past 12-15 years, are transitioning spectrum to new CBRS rules and LTE equipment to expand their reach and strengthen their services.


As we reflect on the use cases across the USA, it is clear that CBRS has revolutionized the ways in which spectrum is utilized to better connectivity across a diverse number of sectors. Hundreds of WISPs have moved their system from the old regime onto new CBRS systems so far, taking advantage of hybrid networks to offer better service to their users and using the spectrum to upgrade their networks and reach. The commercialization of CBRS has also provided private network deployers with a ‘one stop shop’ for spectrum access, equipment and management services, making the process more efficient than ever.


Now, with the PAL auction accomplished, we expect to see the CBRS ecosystem grow exponentially over the coming years to continually support innovation and better connectivity across the US. With all these achievements so early in its deployment and not a single report of harmful incumbent interference, CBRS has truly proved a spectrum sharing success – and we are excited to work with spectrum authorities to continue driving this journey.

TVWS Workshop:

Latest developments of global frameworks and its social impact

To watch the full webinar on demand, visit our YouTube channel.

Following the Summer break, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is excited to continue our efforts in serving the underserved and bettering the lives of millions. Working with authorities and policy makers worldwide to drive the movement towards more accessible, affordable and efficient broadband access, we have already celebrating many major milestones this year – despite unprecedented global events. In preparation for out virtual Global Summit this November, we intend to maintain this momentum throughout these coming months and prepare for the further realization of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing potential as the new year looms.

In July, we were thrilled to host our virtual TVWS Workshop covering the global impact of TV White Space (TVWS) frameworks on society and the wider technological ecosystem – sponsored by Microsoft. Reflecting on the recent regulatory changes and deployments within the TVWS Ecosystem, our two panels of expert shared their valuable insight into the benefits of a diverse and vast ecosystem, the importance of serving the underserved, and the future potential of TVWS.

Opening the webinar, Vickie Robinson, Senior Director of the Airband Initiative at Microsoft USA outlined Microsoft’s mission, pledging its dedication to extending broadband access to the 40 million unconnected people worldwide – three million of whom reside in the United States – by July 2022. Emphasising its global scope, the Airband Initiative has roots which extend far beyond the USA and rely on a public-private effort for diminishing the digital divide, particularly in rural areas. The Airband Initiative works in close partnership with several organizations, including local wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as well as federal, state and local entities focused on closing the rural digital divide.


To follow, our regulatory panel saw established policy makers from around the world discuss the developments of TVWS guidelines in their respective nations, and the benefits of TVWS deployment that they have witnessed first-hand. Speakers included Mr.Moisés Queiroz Moreira, Commissioner at ANATEL, Brazil; Mr. Peter Ngige, Assistant Director at the Communications Authority of Kenya; Mr. Austin Nwaulune, Director, Spectrum Administration at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr. Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner at the FCC, USA. Together, they explored the impact of the current pandemic on TVWS frameworks, with Mr. Ngige describing temporary measures that have been put in place by authorities in Kenya as a solution to the surge in broadband demand with the rise of telework. Elsewhere, such as in Nigeria, the decision to deploy TVWS commercially is under consultation, and is part of an ambitious and recently released plan to increase broadband access in the country. Regardless of region, however, it was made clear that TVWS is a complimentary service, that provides or will provide last mile connectivity. Working hand in hand with other technologies and fixed wireless services, TVWS can be backboned by existing fibre, microwave links and satellites to, in turn, reinforce the network and lay stable foundations for emerging spectrum technologies.


Our second panel saw the audience participate in a Q&A segment following an exploration of TVWS network deployments from Sylvia Jaramillo, General Manager at Anditel, Bryan Kariuki, Chief Commercial Officer at Mawingu Networks, Jalel Sager, CEO of New Sun Road and Greg Jarman, Chief Development Officer at Watch Communications. Moderated by Lydia Payne Carroon, Business Operations Manager at Microsoft, concerns about the stability of rural connectivity were raised, with the discussion turning to common roadblocks in the journey to increasing connectivity and the creative solutions required to overcome them. Serving customers across ten countries and reaching nine million people, the Microsoft Airband Initiative has done just this, noticing trends in data which indicate particular demographics falling victim to digital isolation. Such trends prove that increasing Internet access to groups and regions must be done at a demographic level. Otherwise, the risk of imbalance among communities is significantly increased. It is not enough to provide the infrastructure, but intervention must occur to teach, train and encourage all members of the community to make use of it. Ultimately, skewed infrastructural distribution, cost of access and content available on the Internet have proved to be obstacles in the widespread use of spectrum sharing technologies. By eradicating this gap in the market, Internet access can be increased worldwide and the discrepancies observed in the analogue world will be prevented from being replicated in the digital world as we drive people from offline to online, closing the digital divide significantly.