A significant portion of my job involves working with industry organizations, such as Small Cell Forum, so I speak regularly with a broad set of companies in the telecommunications space who are not only developing innovative products, but also looking to define the technologies and business models that will bring about the 5G era, for the benefit of everyone. Based on this, there seems to be agreement that 5G will not be a switch that one day gets flipped on; rather, it will be ushered in via deployment of critical enabling technologies that create new opportunities and enhance user experiences. One such technology is LTE over 3.5 GHz CBRS.
The FCC has made allocation for 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum, and product innovation is well underway. LTE-based solutions in the CBRS band, utilizing shared spectrum, can enable both in-building and outdoor coverage and capacity expansion at massive scale. It should come as no surprise that Qualcomm Technologies is leading the way both from an industry perspective (e.g., active in CBRS Alliance and on Capitol Hill) and with comprehensive chipset solutions.
A major milestone toward 3.5 GHz commercialization was reached at the recent CBRS Alliance event hosted at Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego. To the best of my knowledge, this event marks the first ever end-to-end live product demonstrations of Band 48. Not least among them was a Qualcomm Technologies supported end-to-end demo in coordination with Airspan. The demo was comprised of an Airspan AirVelocity indoor LTE small cell, powered by the Qualcomm FSM platform, communicating with a Qualcomm Snapdragon LTE modem over Band 48.
What is Band 48? Band 48 is the 3GPP-approved band for CBRS that reflects the FCC allocation for an innovative spectrum sharing framework in 3.5 GHz. In other words, Band 48 support will be needed to realize the full market potential of 3.5 GHz CBRS for the benefit of:
- Augmenting traditional MNO (Mobile Network Operator) networks
- Enterprises and other new entrants building their own neutral host or private LTE networks
- “Last mile” connectivity via fixed wireless applications
This demonstration of communication over Band 48 represents a continuation of the progress demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2017, where several early 3.5 GHz-capable Small Cell products were showcased from Airspan, Askey, Baicells, Ruckus Wireless, SpiderCloud Wireless, and Qucell, many of which were also demonstrating 3.5 GHz CBRS capabilities at the CBRS Alliance event.
RELATED STORY: Read "Small Cells: Enhancing coverage, capacity, and experiences with shared/unlicensed spectrum" for a recap of the progress with small cells we highlighted at MWC 2017.
As rapid innovation continues, you can expect to see 3.5 GHz CBRS become a commercial reality in 2018, with Qualcomm Technologies at the forefront with comprehensive solutions from small cells to mobile.