Earlier this week, NRTC hosted a highly informative webcast attracting about 100 participants to learn more about the Citizen’s Band Radio Service (CBRS). The FCC plans to hold an auction in June 2020 for access to 3.5 GHz spectrum, potentially valuable for rural 5G/internet of things (IoT) and fixed broadband service. The webinar is the first in a series of activities NRTC Broadband Solutions plans to assist members make CBRS business plans.
The webinar covered many of the basics of CBRS, including the band characteristics, the likely uses of 3.5 GHz services in rural America, the equipment ecosystem, and details about the 2020 auction. Kurt Schaubach, chief technology officer of Federated Wireless explained that there will be two ways to access CBRS frequencies.
General Authorized Access (GAA) is shared use with permitted transmission if it does not interfere with other users. For those who require more stable and reliable access, the Priority Access Licenses (PALs) are the subject of the upcoming auction. “These licenses are unique in that they are not exclusive use licenses. It is a priority right over other users,” Schaubach said. PALs will be available on a county-by-county basis, providing for manageable geographic distances for most rural providers.
“We believe there will be a very robust market around priority access rights given the user-share paradigm that actually creates a number of incentives for entities to lease, partition or disaggregate spectrum that otherwise would not exist in traditional license bands,” Schaubach said.
There is a wide range of potential rural uses for CBRS, including mobile services, fixed wireless, IoT and private data networks. “If you look at the [IoT uses] that are typically mentioned, you know that they strike at the heart of what we’re doing in rural,” said Ted Solomon, NRTC’s VP, Strategy & Corporate Development. “There’s smart grid, of course. Smart ag is a big opportunity in our communities. And then, we use the term ‘smart communities’ or ‘smart cities.’”
The webinar is one of several activities NRTC is planning in coming months to prepare our members for the CBRS auction as well as obtain financing through federal loan, grant and universal service programs. We encourage NRTC members to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like slides from the webcast or more information.