OnQ Blog

Qualcomm Technologies propels CBRS commercialization with platforms for devices and infrastructure

Apr 8, 2020

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

The rules of connectivity are changing, as the 5G era transitions from vision to reality – and at a very rapid pace. One such game-changing aspect is the FCC’s recent authorization for commercial deployment of products operating in the 3.5 GHz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band in the General Authorized Access (GAA) tier. This is no surprise to Qualcomm Technologies, as we’ve been helping to drive toward this key regulatory milestone for years – paving the way for American consumers to benefit from this new spectrum band, first for LTE-based products and later for 5G NR operations as quickly and  broadly as possible.

All spectrum bands are crucial for wireless communication. The amount and type of spectrum available for wireless communication directly impacts the capacity and performance of wireless systems. As we enter the 5G era, spectrum availability is as important as ever. For 5G to reach its potential, we need to use all types of spectrum: low, mid, and high band; and, licensed, unlicensed, and shared. Licensed spectrum will continue to be the foundation for ubiquitous cellular connectivity which is the industry’s top priority. At the same time, the use of unlicensed and shared spectrum bands continues to be extremely important to meet the increasing demand and evolving use cases for wireless data among consumers, enterprises, governments, and other organizations.

The 3.5 GHz CBRS band offers a significant swath of additional shared spectrum. Utilizing an innovative shared spectrum framework in a key mid-band could enable both in-building and outdoor coverage. Expected to expand cellular network capacity at massive scale, CBRS could be used to augment traditional mobile network operator (MNO) networks and open the door for enterprises and other new entrants to build their own private cellular networks. CBRS could also be deployed to improve “last mile” connectivity via fixed wireless applications.

CBRS implements a three-tier shared spectrum framework. The first tier are incumbents, US government systems which operate primarily on the east and west coasts. They will get access to the spectrum when and where they need it, ahead of any other user. The second tier are Priority Access Licensees (PALs). These licenses will consist of 10 MHz each, for a total of up to 70 MHz (just under half of the band) in areas covering the whole US. These licenses will be awarded in an FCC auction scheduled to begin July 23, 2020. Finally, the GAA tier covers the entire band for any other users, wherever the spectrum is not otherwise used by an incumbent or PAL.

This innovative spectrum sharing framework creates opportunities for deployments by venue owners and many others who have not previously had access to cellular spectrum. This facilitates increased spectrum and product availability, translating to better user experiences in a wide array of scenarios.

To learn more about Priority Access Licenses, the CBRS Alliance – an industry organization focused on enabling cellular networks in the new CBRS spectrum – has published a useful PAL fact-sheet.

Qualcomm Technologies is leading the way both from an industry perspective (e.g., active in CBRS Alliance and on Capitol Hill) through technology collaborations and demonstrations, and with comprehensive commercial chipset solutions for mobile devices and RAN infrastructure.

Beginning with Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem and the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform, Qualcomm Technologies has offered support for 3.5 GHz CBRS for mobile devices for over three years. Other LTE modems with support for CBRS include the Snapdragon X20 and Snapdragon X24, the newer Snapdragon X55 and Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF Systems, as well as Snapdragon 845, Snapdragon 855, Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platforms among others – translating to more than 60 mobile device designs announced or in development using our solutions, from over 20 OEMs including Google, Samsung, Motorola, LG and OnePlus.

Similarly, Qualcomm RAN platforms have been selected for CBRS-enabled infrastructure products by several OEMs, including Airspan, Baicells, Commscope, Corning, Qucell, Samsung and Sercomm.

Stay tuned for more from Qualcomm and our customers as CBRS spurs industry innovation, expands business model possibilities, and delivers enhanced experiences for the 5G-era users.


Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm RAN platforms are products of Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and/or its subsidiaries.


Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Dean Brenner

Senior Vice President, Spectrum Strategy and Technology Policy

Caleb Banke

Senior Manager, Marketing

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