Access to real-time data and information has become a necessity for business, education, and day-to-day life. Wireless data is the primary way to satisfy the connectivity and information demands of the growing population of smart devices. Wireless data applications may include text messages, voice communications, IoT transactions, high-definition video, etc. New use cases are developed daily.
The primary function of narrowband radio systems is to provide voice communications. These systems, which utilize kilohertz-scaled channels, do not offer the bandwidth needed to deliver large amounts of data and information in a timely manner. Broadband radio systems, operating with megahertz-scaled bandwidths, are necessary to meet the data requirements of today's applications and devices. Broadband systems commonly utilize LTE (Long Term Evolution) or 5G (Fifth Generation) technology.
Access to wireless broadband services has been offered for many years by commercial wireless carriers. Until recently, build-outs of private broadband systems have not been a realistic option for most entities. The required spectrum was only available through Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctions, with licenses for large geographic areas, and at costs in the millions or even billions of dollars.
The FCC has subsequently adopted rules for shared commercial use of the 3550-3700 MHz band, known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The CBRS three-tiered access and authorization framework (Incumbent Access, Priority Access, and General Authorized Access) was established to promote both private and commercial broadband deployments at any scale. Access to CBRS spectrum is managed by FCC-approved companies through the Spectrum Access System (SAS). These SAS providers manage the CBRS band and provide real-time frequency assignments based upon demand and FCC rules.
CBRS is the first broadband spectrum offering from the FCC that is attainable by the general public for deploying private broadband data networks. 70 MHz (7 channels) of the CBRS band is reserved for shared use by General Authorized Access (GAA) users with no auction or licensing fees. The remaining 80 MHz (8 channels) of the CBRS spectrum is referred to as PALs, which were offered at the county-level through FCC Auction 105. PAL channels that were not sold at auction or built-out in specific areas are also available for GAA deployments.
The FCC has authorized other frequencies bands that may be suitable for private broadband systems, including Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Many school districts and educational institutions have access to EBS spectrum for private broadband applications. Trott offers the following engineering and consulting services associated with private LTE and private 5G: