Infrastructure vendor Boingo Wireless revealed it is using Dallas Love Field Airport as a proving ground for future 3.5GHz deployments, setting up a private LTE network in what it said is the first known application of the shared spectrum band at a major US airport.
Boingo CTO Derek Peterson told Mobile World Live the commercial trial was designed to provide network coverage for the airport’s IT team using radio equipment from Ruckus Wireless and an access system from Federated Wireless. Staff members are able to tap into the network using special 3.5GHz-capable laptops and handsets, including the Essential phone and Samsung Galaxy S9 devices, he added.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in the process of reviewing its rules for the 3.5GHz band, also known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), and has not yet begun certifying devices or equipment, which means commercial deployments cannot yet move ahead.
But Peterson said Boingo’s work with Dallas Love Field Airport represents “a great step forward because it’s kind of a real deployment under the auspices of a trial”. He explained the trial will provide the company with technical learnings and a deployment model it can use once FCC certification begins.
Already, Peterson said Boingo discovered “the noise ratio is really low and the signal is really strong. So five antennas was plenty to be able to do coverage throughout the whole terminal”.
He added: “The way we’re doing this is we’re a neutral host operator, so instead of being a licensed carrier that has licences and spectrum, this is one of those true cases where you’re getting an unlicensed kind of deployment. So it’s showing you yet another way this could go where you’re going to have venues deploying this for private LTE and not require a carrier to do that.”